Attorney general- Ozarks college must return cash

Sunday, November 3, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Attorney General Jay Nixon said the Ozarks Technical Community College should not question whether it needs to return a $180,000 state appropriation.

"I saw the headline in your paper," Nixon told The Springfield News-Leader Friday. "'OTC board to ask Nixon: Must cash go back?' The answer is yes."

State Auditor Claire McCaskill criticized the way the college handled the 2001 state appropriation in a recent audit. The money, intended to be used as seed money for a south campus in Ozark, was to be returned if it wasn't being used, she said.

Funding for the Ozark campus has dried up, and a bond issue also failed.

McCaskill said the school could not keep the funds until the project started again. Nixon agreed.

Despite Nixon's comments, the attorney for the school's board of trustees said they want Nixon to explain why the money has to be returned.

However, board president Delores Brooks said after a closed board meeting Wednesday that the money would go back "without a fight" if the attorney general said it should.

Nixon said there's no need for clarification.

"There is an easy way and a hard way," he said. "The fact is they should have been totally candid with the spending process and take their chances on a reappropriation."

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