Missouri Counties Bank Money Intended for Shelters

The Missouri state auditor reported last week that more than half of the state's counties withheld a total of nearly $500,000 in funds intended for domestic violence shelters in 1998. The auditor said that included $313,800 withheld from shelters in St. Louis and the surrounding area resulting in 1,363 women being turned away, because the funds to help them were earning interest in city coffers. Shelters are largely funded by fees for marriage licenses and civil and criminal fines. The city kept $12,000 in interest. The audit for 1999 was not yet available. Officials promised to disburse the funds swiftly.