St. Louis County Council members clashed on Tuesday when County Executive Steve Stenger suggested the council fire County Auditor Mark Tucker.
The request is following an investigative report conducted by KMOV in which it showed St. Louis County Auditor Mark Tucker owing thousands to the IRS.
According to Stenger, Tucker faces a federal income tax lien of $91,496 and has been in place since 2011.
“We call upon our residents to pay their taxes,” Stenger said. “It is appalling that our own county auditor, an individual responsible for budgetary checks and balances and who should serve as an example of fiscal responsibility, has instead proven derelict in his personal and professional obligations.”
Councilmember Pat Dolan, who represents the 5th District, suggested that Tucker lacked the specified credentials for the position.
“As far as the hiring of our current auditor, when went through the process there was a candidate that was qualified with the credentials and experience to be the auditor and that’s who I voted for because it was the only candidate that had the actual qualifications to be the County Auditor,” Dolan said. “I wasn’t voting against the person selected but I voted for the person who qualified and I would hope that we could come to some reasonable solution that we could hire an auditor who was actually an auditor, who has the credentials to be the auditor for St. Louis County, no matter who they’re associated with — hopefully nobody.”
But not all of the County Council members agreed with firing Tucker.
Councilman Sam Page, said Tucker was undergoing a divorce and that’s why his financial situation was questionable.
“I am disappointed to see such unprecedented personal attacks launched by County Executive Stenger. This is not good government,” Page said. “Unfortunately, several years ago, the County Auditor went through a divorce and liquidated his 401k retirement fund. He negotiated a payment plan with the IRS and he’s been current the past six years.”
Page also added the presence of this payment plan did not prevent Tucker from fiscal oversight budget and audit duties for the state senate and for the governor and wouldn’t it prevent him from working for the county.
Councilwoman Hazel Erby, agreed with Page’s assessment and added that Stenger went too far with his attacks on Tucker to be removed.
“I’m appalled that the county executive publicly put this gentleman’s personal business out to the media in the manner in which he did before he even brought it to the council. Owing taxes does not prevent one from working for the state or county,” Erby said. “He went to the news media with confidential personnel information. The auditor has duties outside the office at various times it is not totally a desk job. He’s doing what he’s been asked to do.”
It will now be up to the council to remove the auditor from his position. No action was taken on Tuesday.