- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A new audit faults the Missouri Department of Agriculture for failing to complete some inspections and giving big pay raises to several employees, but Auditor Tom Schweich says those are “relatively small” concerns.

Schweich gave the agriculture agency an overall “good” rating in the audit released Wednesday.

“It was probably the best audit of a state agency since I’ve been state auditor,” said Schweich, who took office in 2011.

The audit covers the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years, when the agency underwent a change in leadership.

The audit said the agency failed to meet inspection requirements for about 3 percent of the petroleum measuring devices in the state in 2013. Auditors also looked at a sampling of inspection documents for grain scales and moisture meters and found that about one-fifth of them had not been inspected as required by law.

The department said in a written response included in the audit that it had an “unusual rate of staff vacancies” because of retirements and illnesses and had limited access to some petroleum sites because of gas station renovations. The agency said it will work toward inspecting every facility.

The audit also took issue with what it described as “significant additional salary increases” to six employees during the 2013 budget year and four employees during 2014.

The agency said the pay raises were based on additional job duties and a desire to equalize pay with other staff in similar positions, but the audit said the department lacked documentation detailing the specific duties or reasons for some of the pay increases.

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