It's going to take a lot of work to clean up Pine Lawn.
That headline is perhaps the most memorable factoid culled from a state audit into the finances of the north St. Louis County suburb.
According to the audit released yesterday, 799 trash customers in Pine Lawn (or 63 percent of all accounts) were delinquent on their trash bills at the start of 2011. In total, those customers owed the city $1.4 million in overdue bills in January.
Yet even if all customers paid the bills, the city would still be going broke providing trash pickup. That's because the private trash hauler charges the city $23 per customer, but the city -- per a local ballot issue passed in 1999 -- can only charge residents $12 a month for trash service.
But that's not all.
The audit also found the city to be in violation of state Sunshine Law and guilty of lax fiscal oversight in a number of areas, including spending from its general fund and monitoring the mileage that Mayor Sylvester Caldwell and other officials place on a city-owned vehicle.
State Auditor Thomas Schweich gave the city an overall "poor" ranking, the worst score possible for a public entity. Read the auditor's full report here