An audit by the state shows some funding for the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Monona County was misspent by the volunteer group in charge of fundraising. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources asked auditor Dave Vaudt to review the funding. Vaudt says the D.N.R. and Monona County handled things properly, but there were problems with a third party.
Vaudt says there was a group called “Friends of Discovery” which was a separate group that volunteered and provided financial support for the center. He says the audit found the group improperly paid some of the money to consultants, and consultants were overpaid for some of the services they provided. Vaudt says there were several thousand dollars in question.
He says the improper payments amounted to about 230-thousand dollars with another 20-thousand dollars in unsupported payments that went to the consultant. Vaudt says the money paid to the consultant Community Services Group were never intended to be used that way. Vaudt says some of the money came through grants and were supposed to be used for specific purposes for construction, but they used to pay commissions and fees to the consultants to help raise some of the money for the project.
The improper payments include grant funds from the National Park Service and Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Vaudt says pledge cards and receipts for the money were not properly monitored. Vaudt says the D.N.R. and the county are looking for more money to complete the project, and his office has made some suggestions to properly keep track of the money, and to be sure it is spent in the right way. The Center was proposed to provide an historical presentation of Lewis and Clark’s journey through Monona County and house replicas of the keel boats used in their journey.
Contractors sued Monona County, Friends and the D.N.R. for payment of overdue construction bills for the completion of the outside of the facility. Unspent grant funds and money from a Monona County loan were used to pay off the lawsuit.
Now the D.N.R. is looking for more money to complete the interior of the center. A copy of the report is available for review the auditor’s website at: auditor.iowa.gov/specials/index.html.