Auditor Fitzpatrick releases audit of St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds

State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick today released the audit for the Office of Recorder of Deeds for the City of St. Louis.

Kelly Sikkema

08/16/2023 – Jefferson City, Mo.

The report, which is one of the final audits of the city requested by the Board of Aldermen in 2018, gives the office a rating of “Good.”

The City of St. Louis Office of Recorder of Deeds and Vital Records Registrar is an elected statutory county office responsible for preserving and providing public access to public records affecting title to real estate and issuance of marriage licenses; administering the State of Missouri vital records registry office for birth and death records for the City of St. Louis; maintaining and assisting users with access to archive data dating between 1765 and the present; and other legal matters.

The audit found the office, which had a payroll of approximately $1.2 million for the fiscal year audited, did not include key safeguards for its payroll policies. Specifically, the office lacks procedures to require employees to sign their timecards to attest to hours worked or leave used, and salaried employees are not required to complete leave requests. Additionally, the office does not have procedures to review and verify employee time entered into the timekeeping system. The audit also found that supervisory reviews did not identify payroll inaccuracies. 

Another finding in the audit, which was identified in two prior audits, documents how the office does not reconcile the records of escrow money it holds to the city’s general ledger records or balances. This has resulted in city liabilities being understated by $30,483 as errors and other unidentified differences remained undetected. The report emphasizes that monthly reconciliations between the Recorder’s escrow account balances and the city’s liability records are necessary to ensure deposit amounts are properly recorded and are sufficient to meet liabilities.

In his response, the Recorder of Deeds indicated he partially agrees with the recommendations of the audit and noted the city has implemented a new payroll system and a new accounting system, which may help address some of the identified issues.

In 2018 the State Auditor’s Office accepted the request by the Board of Aldermen to complete a comprehensive, independent audit of the City of St. Louis. Since that request, the State Auditor’s Office has released more than 20 audit reports. With the release of the audit of the Office of Recorder of Deeds, only the audit of the Circuit Attorney’s Office remains to complete the process.

The complete audit of the City of St. Louis Recorder of Deeds can be found here.


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