The State Auditor has released a follow-up report on the city of Cross Timbers, a town of fewer than 120 in Hickory County. A citizen-initiated audit released in March gave a rating of “poor” after finding tens of thousands of dollars had been misappropriated by a former city clerk and the city in poor financial condition. The follow-up report measured the progress of city officials in implementing the recommendations on 31 audit findings. Auditors found that while some progress has been made, more than half of the recommendations were only partially implemented or not implemented at all.
In the audit released in March, auditors found at least $44,452 was misappropriated by former city clerk January “Nicki” Clark during her employment with the city from 2017 to 2020. This included payments to the city never deposited; improper adjustments to utility payments, including adjustments to Clark’s own utility account; and overcompensation to herself. Those findings led to felony charges being filed against Clark. The audit also found city finances in poor financial condition, and that the Board did not adequately monitor the city’s financial condition. As a result, expenses exceeded income in 2018 and 2019, causing cash balances to decrease. The cash flow problems resulted in the city not paying bills timely, but they have been making monthly payments to catch up. Since the audit, the city has implemented 6 and partially implemented 13 of the 31 audit recommendations.
The State Auditor’s Office continues to work with Cross Timbers to address the issues.