Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has directed her staff to begin an immediate review of the Kinloch Fire Protection District, located in St. Louis County. The audit was initiated after the district failed to comply with a state law that sets requirements for when fire protection districts must obtain an audit.
"I applaud the brave men and women of the all-volunteer Kinloch Fire Protection District who risk their lives to protect their neighbors," Auditor Galloway said. "We owe it to them and to the people of the city of Kinloch to ensure public dollars flowing into district accounts are spent fairly, appropriately and in accordance with the law."
The Kinloch Fire Protection District is made up of about 30 volunteer fire firefighters. The city is located in St. Louis County just east of Lambert Airport and the NorthPark development project, which includes office and commercial retail space.
Financial records show the fire district received $22,000 in property tax revenue in 2014. The following year, the district began offering fee-based new building inspections to developers at the NorthPark development site. As a result, the district's annual revenue grew 650% to $165,000. State law requires fire protection districts in certain counties with annual revenue above $50,000 to obtain an audit.
"Any public body that uses public dollars must also meet basic standards of transparency and openness so citizens can see how their money is being spent," Auditor Galloway said.
The city of Kinloch covers less than one square mile and has a population of about 300 people. In 2013 the previous fire chief pleaded guilty to felony theft charges for stealing $140,000 in district funds.
Individuals who would like to provide information for consideration during the course of the audit may contact the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline at 800-347-8597. You can also submit your concerns anonymously online at auditor.mo.gov/hotline or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.