State audit finds merger of state water patrol and highway patrol to cost $900,000 per year

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Missouri News Horizon
-- State Auditor Tom Schweich says the merger of the State Water Patrol and the State Highway Patrol will cost Missouri $900,000 each year, despite promises that the deal would save the state money.

The finding comes in the state audit of the State Water Patrol. In a summary, Schweich’s office concludes that “although the state will save some money from cutting support staff, not filling vacancies and terminating a lease, the merger will cost the state nearly $1.8 million more in increased retirement and health care costs each year.”

The Missouri Legislature passed a bill at the end of the 2010 session that allowed the patrols to merge. At the time, the state Department of Public Safety estimated savings of $3 million a year.

Schweich’s audit found that $2.4 million in savings claimed by the Department of Public Safety from reassigning officers actually just moved the officers’ salaries from one budget item to another.

The state audit of the Water Patrol found about $3,000 missing from boater education fees missing. In April, 45 year old Ruth Tiefenbaum of St. Joseph was arrested and charged with felony stealing in the case. The audit said lax accounting procedures allowed the theft to go undetected.

The audit also criticized the Water Patrol for maintaining 28 surplus boats in a warehouse with no clear plans for their use or sale. The patrol says a miscommunication prevented the boats from being prepared for sale in a timely fashion.