The Buzz

Audit claims MoDOT has misspent $7.1 million

Interstate 70 on the Missouri side of the state line
Interstate 70 on the Missouri side of the state line Dave Eulitt/The Kansas City Star

Missouri’s Transportation Department misspent $7.1 million on safety grants, legal settlements, leave, and to cover a worker’s loss on a property sale, a new audit claims.

The report — from the Missouri state auditor’s office — says the state’s constitution only allows highway funds to be spent on highway construction or related activities.

Instead, the study says, the department spent $3.8 million over two years on safety grants to local authorities. It also spent $1.9 million on discrimination settlements with workers over the same time frame, and $1.4 million to pay workers on administrative leave.

The state Transportation Commission disputes the findings.

“The Commission has the authority to ‘otherwise improve’ the state highway system,” it said in the report, “which can include making state highway travel safer such as through promotion of safety belt laws, motorcycle safety, etc.”

It also defends the employee spending as within the scope of the State Road Fund.

Auditors claim MoDOT paid for employee relocations at a higher rate than other state workers, costing more than $600,000.

Commissioners blamed extraordinary circumstances, and said worker relocations and cuts will actually save money in the long run.