By Suzanne Mackey
News Star Reporter
A citizen petition requesting a special audit of the city of Pauls Valley has been submitted to the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s office.
The petition request, presented by former Pauls Valley hospital employees and their representative, Skip Mitchell, of Lindsay, is asking the State Auditor and Inspector’s office to look into records and events related to the October 2018 closure of Pauls Valley’s hospital.
The petition lists eight specific areas of concern, occurring between 2015 and 2020, to be examined. They include:
•Determining if financing arrangements (revenue note, loans, etc.) have been properly managed.
•Determining if sales tax revenue has been used according to its designated purposes.
•Evaluating the recall petition process and related communications and results.
•Reviewing contracts, lease agreements, and bid processes of the hospital facility and the ambulance service.
•Determining if the city has failed to pay wages and related benefits to former hospital employees.
•Reviewing the city’s management/relationship with nursing home facilities across the state of Oklahoma.
•Reviewing possible violations of the Open Meeting Act and the Open Records Act.
•Reviewing payments to selected personnel (contract labor, legal services, etc.)
The State Auditor and Inspector now has 30 days to present the petitions to the Garvin County Election Board, which will certify whether the petition has the required number of signatures from registered voters living within the Pauls Valley city limits.
The State Auditor and Inspector’s office has estimated the audit will cost the city between $40,000 and $80,000. That cost is based on estimated audit hours and travel expenses.
Pauls Valley’s city attorney, Jay Carlton, said the city’s fiscal year 2020-2021 budget, which went into effect on July 1, has no money budgeted to pay for a special audit and having to encumber enough funds to pay for the audit would “hit the budget hard.
Other budget items would have to be eliminated or reduced to cover it.”