July 13, 2014

Investigation finds former Sloan billing clerk mishandled money

A special investigation by the State Auditor’s Office has found several issues with the handling of money and accounts by a former utility billing clerk in the western Iowa town of Sloan.  Laurie Kubly was placed on paid administrative leave on March 13 of this year and then resigned six days later.

Deputy State Auditor, Warren Jenkins, says they found several issues with the billing handled by Kubly. “What we found were that some customers were overbilled and paid more than they should have, and the excess of those customers was paid to the accounts of the customers that were not billed,” Jenkins says.

The overbilling happened to customers who usually had larger bills. Jenkins says that’s because a bill variance may not jump out as much to larger users. The switching in the billing system was just part of the problems found in the audit. “The overbillings were also used to cover up payments that had been made in cash which was not deposited,” Jenkins explains. “Money was really going out in two different ways — one was in free service in some cases — in others cash payments which were pocketed, but were covered up by the overbilling.”

The audit was able to identify some $13,000 in billings that were not handled properly. “When you consider that Sloan has a population of just under a thousand people, that’s a fairly good amount of change per person,” Jenkins says.

The investigation was requested after city officials noticed some billing problems. “We have made recommendations on ways to improve their system and we have also filed a report with the county attorney for his determination of any legal action that may take place,” Jenkins says. The audit covered the period from May 19th of 2009 through March 31st of 2013.