SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- (1/02/2018) Whistle-blowers have come forward since early December, accusing the Greene County Commissioner's Office of using tax-payer dollars to advocate for their half-cent tax increase that was passed last November. Many in the community are now demanding transparency about what exactly their money is being used for.
What started with just one whistle-blower has now grown to twelve, and State Auditor Nicole Galloway has officially asked the Commissioner's Office for permission to conduct an investigation into the alleged misuse of taxpayer money.
"My frustration thus far has been that I feel the county commission has not been as open and honest as we need to be," said Eastern District Commissioner Lincoln Hough.
However, the county has not yet granted Galloway permission. Instead, they acted independently and hired a private firm out of Kansas City to conduct an investigation- a move that Hough voted against.
"To me it just didn't make any sense to spend $365 an hour with a private firm outside of Springfield to look into these allegations," said Hough.
The findings of that firm were released last week. It stated that further investigation into the county's finances were needed either by a private firm or the state auditor herself.
"I think the taxpayers of Greene County deserve the right to know that their elected public officials are doing the best jobs they can and are spending the resources that are generated in this community as wisely as they can," said Hough.
While Hough did not specify if he believes illegal activity took place, he emphasized the need for further action.
"When you have two independent bodies saying there are some things here that need to be looked at, and I think that again to be open and honest with our community, the people of Greene County need to see that."
Meanwhile, taxpayers have started a petition of their own, and if the needed 6,750 signatures are received, an audit will be forced.
Hough added that ongoing dialogue from the commissioners will continue to determine what the best way to handle the situation is. Additionally, the Newsleader is also reporting that Sheriff Arnott is suing State Auditor Galloway for not releasing the identity of the whistle-blowers.