Nearly 80 Oklahoma towns have failed to file annual financial audits and are forfeiting more than $90,000 in gasoline excise taxes under state law. That’s unfortunate for several reasons.
Public confidence in government relies on transparency. When local governments repeatedly refuse to have their books audited, that’s cause for concern. Furthermore, most of the communities impacted are small towns where every dollar counts, so forfeiting fuel tax money has real impact.
Unfortunately, for many small communities the cost of the audit is greater than the cost of the financial penalty, so those towns are opting to take the hit rather than have their books examined.
We’re glad 87 percent of towns in Oklahoma are filing their audits, but wish the other 13 percent would join them. The challenges facing small towns are real, but balancing the budget by avoiding audits is poor public policy.