Local town in financial trouble

Local town in financial trouble
By: Ryan Tate
PUXICO, Mo. - The Missouri Auditor's office says the city of Puxico is in financial trouble.
Missouri State Auditor Susan Montee and her staff presented their findings of the budget for the city of Puxico. The results surprise some, but not others.
According to the audit based on Fiscal Year 2005-2006, the city ran a deficit of more than $166,000 combined in the Fire and Police Departments, as well as the Nutrition Center Fund.
The auditors also found the city paid for fuel after the Marshal used his personal vehicle to transport the K9 Unit dog. The Marshal was not required to report mileage.
The city does not have a formal, written bidding policy. The city also used taxpayer money for a Christmas party, employee Christmas presents, and for flowers, figurines, and candy for city employees.
"Things they pointed out were things we already knew. The audit reflects badly on the city because of the context. It looks bad," Puxico Alderman Peter Coutavas said. Coutavas was a member of the city government during the audit's timeframe.
Coutavas said the city government has "run in the red" for some funds numerous times over the years.
"The alternative to that is if the city council is to take care of this problem, is to cut back on services drastically and raise taxes," Coutavas said.
"It has already changed the way they do things in City Hall," Opal Lee Cookson said. Cookson helped organize the petition that brought the Auditors to Puxico.
There is no word yet on what the audit will cost the city. It is estimated it will be between $8,000 and $16,000.