Cardwell Residents Accuse Alderman of Lying to get Signatures

October 2, 2003 - Posted at: 11:15pm

CARDWELL, MO -- A group of Cardwell residents are accusing a city council member of lying in order to get enough signatures needed for a state audit.

Alderman Greg McGrew helped lead an effort to get the needed 150 signatures on a petition, but at least two women claim registered voters were told the petition was for things ranging from a new water system to a fund to keep vacant lots maintained.

State Auditor Debra Lewis explained to Cardwell residents Thursday how auditors will go through to check the city's financial records beginning with 2002.

"We meet with the petitioners in a closed meeting to find out their concerns," said Debra Lewis, Audit Manager with the State of Missouri Office of the State Auditor.

Lewis can't reveal the reasons residents asked for the audit. Alderman Greg McGrew said, "There were some concerns from citizens over the 3 or 4 years that we didn't have audits and several different issues."

Many residents and some city administrators don't feel another audit is necessary. A Blytheville C.P.A. firm audited a 6 month time period in 2001 and 2002 at a cost of $15,000. Then this year a Paragould accountant audited the city for the 2002 fiscal year for $4,500. The bill of this state audit could range between $8,000 and $16,000.

"It cost us so much money," said Mary Baker, lifetime resident of Cardwell.

The price isn't the main problem some residents have with the audit. They say they were deceived into signing the petition to get it.

Genevia Richards explained, "An audit was never mentioned to me, nor did I read the word audit."

"A lot of people trusted Greg McGrew, so they signed it. He's a councilman, and then he went to some of them that can't read and write to start with," added Mary Baker

Greg McGrew replied to the women's remarks by saying they had the chance to explain their concerns to Debra Lewis.

"As the state auditor said, it was really a pretty simple form, so I won't have any comment other than that," said McGrew.

The state audit will take 3 to 6 months to complete. Mayor David Bishop says the city will make monthly installments to pay off the bill.