The local U.S. 36/I-72 transportation development district (TDD) is one of 49 districts around the state that Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich says failed to report their finances to his office by a state deadline in either fiscal year 2009, 2010 or 2011. If true, the TDD could face a fine of $229,500.
Larry Craig, executive director of the local highway TDD, only saw the auditor’s report on Tuesday.
“The minute I read that (report), within 30 seconds I was on the phone to Armstrong Teasdale, talking to my point of contact there,” said Craig, referring to the TDD’s legal counsel.
According to the report issued by Schweich’s office on Monday, the U.S. 36/I-72 submitted the required reports in 2009 and 2010, but not in 2011.
“I was somewhat surprised that we hadn’t. I’m not saying that we have not. I know the auditor’s office is saying we have not, but we’re still trying to research as to whether or not we were delinquent in submitting that or not,” said Craig, noting that typically a completed audit report is submitted to the state by Armstrong Teasdale. “I’m trying to determine now through our legal counsel whether we did submit the report and their (auditor’s) report is in error, or whether there was an administrative error.”
Craig contends that if the TDD failed to submit a report, it was not intentional.
“We respect the law. We respect the requirement to submit the report. I’m not convinced we did not submit the report, but if we did not submit the report it was with no malice intent, it was administrative oversight,” he said, adding the 2011 report was submitted to the auditor’s office early Tuesday afternoon.
The multi-county TDD was established in June 2005 to help pay for the expansion of U.S. 36 to four lanes between Hannibal and Macon.
In Hannibal, City Manager Jeff LaGarce said “we should be fine” in regard to the city’s recently closed Stardust-Munger-Diamond TDD. It was not mentioned for any violations in the auditor’s report.
State law allows fines of $500 a day for failing to submit financial data. Schweich says that could have totaled almost $17 million as of last February. The fact that Schweich wants lawmakers to clarify who enforces those fines was noted by Craig.
“I find it very interesting that the auditor has pointed out that anybody who fails to submit in a timely manner is subject to a fine, but state law does not assign the responsibility of assessing the fine or collecting the fine to any particular state agency,” he said. “I think he’s pointing out that if state law had assigned the responsibility of assessing a fine and collecting a fine to a particular agency we probably would have been fined. I haven’t received any notification that we are being assessed that fine. If we were I’d probably go through a process with our legal counsel to appeal that process.”
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(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)