UPDATED to include St. Louis County Counselor Peter Krane’s letter to Bick & Kistner law firm.
St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page introduced a resolution on Tuesday that seeks to employ a law firm that would allow the County Council to fill a vacant auditor position.
The resolution passed 4-1-2, with Councilmember Pat Dolan voting no, and Councilmembers Colleen Wasinger, and Mark Harder abstaining.
Page said in an interview last month that the St. Louis County Auditor doesn’t have enough staff within the office to properly carry out his duties in a timely fashion.
“The county auditor is an important function and a well-staffed auditor’s office can provide the fiscal oversight and the auditing that’s needed to bring accountability and transparency to county government,” Page said. “The simple truth is that the County Auditor’s office is understaffed. St. Charles County has six auditors and their a third of our size and St. Louis County has two and we’re only budgeted for three.”
Currently, the St. Louis County Auditor’s Office only has two audit staff, one of which is Tucker himself.
In response to the resolution, St. Louis County Counselor Peter Krane wrote a letter to Bick & Kistner, the law firm that the bill seeks to hire to inform them the resolution is only a statement of desires by the County Council members.
“Please be advised that the resolution is merely a statement of desires of four members of the Council and does not have any legal effect,” Krane said in the letter. “The Council has no authority to enter into contracts and no payment authority. Furthermore, no funds will be appropriated for your services. Therefore, if you do in fact provide any legal representation to any members of the Council, you do so at your own economic peril.”
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has argued that the office already has adequate staff but lacks an efficient County Auditor in Mark Tucker.
“I don’t think that some members of the county council have demonstrated that they are good stewards of taxpayer money. I don’t know if they’re taking frankly their job as council members seriously enough,” Stenger said. “This is a very serious position in St. Louis County government and is currently occupied by an individual who doesn’t show up for the job, who doesn’t meet the basic charter requirements and he hasn’t produced a single audit in six months.”
Additionally, Stenger added that Tucker couldn’t manage his own finances efficiently.
“The Auditor as appointed by Page also has a federal tax lien in excess of $91,000 resulting from his failure to pay personal income taxes for the years 2008, 2009, and 2010.”