By Allen Edmonds
A Belton citizens group led by the former executive director of the defunct Belton Council for Economic Development has been granted permission by the Missouri State Auditor’s Office to begin collecting signatures for a petition to audit the city.
Art Ruiz represented Belton Citizens 1st, a committee that has been meeting for several months to discuss growing concerns with the state of City Hall under the leadership of City Manager Alexa Barton and Mayor Jeff Davis.
“It’s not personal, it’s business,” said Ruiz. “The committee members have had concerns for quite a while, and none of them have felt satisfied with the answers they’ve gotten from City Hall."
His committee developed a list of 17 wide-ranging concerns on numerous areas of City Hall operation, from accounting and budgeting to human resources and distribution of tax dollars.
The list of concerns, which are areas the group suggests the Auditor’s Office examine, were not required to be made public. But Ruiz said it was important to be straightforward.
“We’re totally transparent. We have nothing to hide.”
The group is required to collect a minimum of 1,003 signatures (10 percent of the number of voters that cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election) from registered Belton voters by Oct. 10, 2020 – one year from the date the petition was approved.
“We think we can have it wrapped up in pretty short order though,” Ruiz said. He said the committee is aiming to get 1,300 to 1,400 signatures in order to make sure to qualify.
Audit petitions are issued by State Auditor Nicole Galloway after her office has reviewed requests. The audit, if approved, will cost the city from $100,000 to $150,000.