When it comes to potential taxpayer ripoffs, the sky’s the limit in Kansas City – at least at the zoo. Or so it would seem based on an example cited by former Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser in a recent story written in his current gig as director of The Governing Institute.
“Back in 1996, while I was city auditor of Kansas City, we undertook an audit of cash control that discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars stuffed in trash bags at the zoo,” Funk begins. “That was only the worst of what we found at the dozens of different locations throughout the city that collected cash.”
Long story short, while Funk and the city were not able to finger anybody for a ripoff, the fact remains that ” The people who collect the cash in most governments are often lower-level employees, with virtually no training and little direct supervision, working in diverse locations (and) theft can occur without a paper trail to show what happened and with no one being the wiser,” Funk concludes.
“There’s no doubt that plenty of government cash is being stolen.”
All of which being said, there is a possible solution, Funkhouser writes.
The Association of Public Treaurers of the United States and Canada has come up with a program to train employees who handle cash.
“Training in cash handling will not prevent a dishonest person from taking money,” Funk says.
Funk’s advice to mayors, city managers, zookeepers and the like: Sign up for the APT course and “spare themselves the embarrassment of watching a trusted employee doing a perp walk on the evening news.”
Kansas City Zoo head dude Randy Wisthoff could not be reached for this column.