Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd has announced a special audit of the city of Pauls Valley.
“We received confirmation from the Garvin County Election Board that organizers of a citizen petition drive gathered enough valid signatures for the investigative audit to proceed,” Byrd said in a statement released Tuesday.
“Local residents had 30 days to gather signatures from 10 percent of the registered voters living within the Pauls Valley city limits.”
The Garvin County Election Board noted it received petitions with 374 signatures and determined that 317 were valid signatures of registered voters living within the boundaries of Pauls Valley. Organizers were required to gather a minimum of 304 valid signatures.
An earlier petition drive by the same group conducted this past summer fell 14 signatures short of the number required to request a Special Audit.
In its petition, residents want to know if sales tax revenue has been used for its designated purposes.
The petition also asks auditors to determine if financing arrangements have been properly managed; review documents related to the city’s hospital and ambulance service; review the city’s management/relationship with nursing home facilities across the state; and, review payments to certain personnel.
“By statute, a special audit may only be conducted when requested by the governor, attorney general, local district attorney, governing board or by citizen petition,” Byrd said.
“Special audits are usually handled by our Forensic Audit Division which has the investigators and special skill sets needed for this kind of audit work. They have multiple forensic-type audits underway at all times.”
The state auditor is required to provide the petition to residents or school patrons seeking a petition requested audit of a public entity. The county election board in which the entity is located determines the number of valid signatures required.
There are currently nine petition audits underway or pending including the towns of Bennington, Calvin, Ochelata, the Marshall Fire Department, and the cities of Holdenville, Henryetta, and Alva. Patrons of Talihina Public Schools also successfully circulated a petition.
“Many of these requests come from small communities and school districts,” Byrd said.
“We strongly recommend public officials be as transparent as possible to keep local residents aware of how public funds are being spent and to help prevent the cost of an investigative audit.”
Public entities subject to a special audit are required to pay the cost of the audit. During the previous fiscal year, the Forensic Audit Division identified more than $1 million in misspent or embezzled funds from Oklahoma taxpayers.