By Suzanne Mackey
News Star Reporter
A second attempt at seeking a special audit of the City of Pauls Valley through a citizen petition request appears to have cleared its first hurdle.
The State Auditor and Inspector’s office has confirmed it received 374 signature pages by the required deadline of 5 p.m. Oct. 27. The auditor’s office now has 30 days to present the signatures to the Garvin County Election Board for certification.
“The Garvin County Election Board will receive color copies of the petitions to verify the signer is a registered voter residing within the boundaries of the City of Pauls Valley and certify the total number of valid signatures received,” Trey Davis with the State Auditor and Inspector’s office said.
A minimum of 304 valid signatures are required to secure a special audit, according to Davis.
The current petition is almost identical to a petition request Lindsay resident Skip Mitchell and former Pauls Valley hospital employees submitted to the State Auditor’s office in July of this year. That request fell about 14 signatures short of the number required to secure an audit.
The petition is asking the auditor’s office conduct a special audit 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. and their associated collateral) including a $500,000 loan made to Southern Plains, 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’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.