A northwest Iowa woman is under arrest and faces charges that she lived a lavish lifestyle — partly at taxpayers’ expense. The State Auditor’s report found 419-thousand dollars in questionable spending in the “Before and After School” program for Spirit Lake and Okoboji school districts. The program provides child care, and part of the money in question came from the state of Iowa to pay the child care expenses of low income children. The rest came from the parents of other kids who were enrolled in the program. Margaret Waltz, known as Meg, is accused of using money that was supposed to be spent on the kids to buy vehicles, vacations, clothes, pet supplies and home decor. For example, the audit found she went on vacation to Cancun and took 15 members of her family along. The tab for that vacation was among the 419-thousand dollars in questionable expenses. She also bought a truck and paid her mother 30-thousand dollars. Waltz, who was the program’s executive director, told investigators her mother wrote grant applications to get more money for the child care program. The audit was prompted after an anonymous tip. The state money in the child care program came from the Department of Human Services and D-H-S spokesman Roger Munns says they’re ordering random audits of similar programs that get the grants. “We know that practically all the recipients, these businesses do walk the straight-and-narrow with public funds, but obviously we’ve been burned by one so we think if we could let people know that their records will get extra scrutiny, they’ll pay extra attention to detail,” Munns says. Munns says they’ll hire auditors or a C-P-A firm to randomly audit child care programs that get state D-H-s grants. In addition, state officials will try to get Waltz to repay some of the money she spent on herself. “This is a misuse of the public trust and the department will aggressively seek to recoup public dollars,” Munns says. The auditor hasn’t yet determined what portion of the 419-thousand dollars in questionable spending was public money because over half of the agency’s budget came from the fees paid by parents who had kids enrolled in the program.
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