State Auditor Tom Schweich has released two audits Wednesday – one dealing with the merger of the Missouri State Water Patrol with the Highway Patrol, and the other with the now-defunct Tour of Missouri bicycle race.�
By Marshall Griffin (Jefferson City, Mo.)
First, Governor Jay Nixon and legislative leaders had touted the merger of the Highway and Water Patrols as a cost-saving move that would also provide valuable cross training for state troopers. But Deputy State Auditor Harry Otto says the merger has actually cost the state an additional $900,000 per year.
“The Highway Patrol has a more lucrative retirement package than [the] Water Patrol, and also provided a better health insurance benefit package than did the Water Patrol,” said Otto.
In response, public safety officials say that not enough time has gone by for all savings to be captured, and that the merger aided the state’s response to natural disasters, including the Joplin tornado, flooding and the February blizzard.
The second audit finds that Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder may have had a conflict of interest when he simultaneously served as chairs of the state’s Tourism Division and a non-profit group that operated the now-defunct Tour of Missouri pro bicycle race. A spokesperson for Kinder says he had no financial interest in the race.