Another special investigation by the State Auditor’s Office released Friday alleges the city clerk in a small southeast Iowa town of Stockport repeatedly overpaid herself and failed to make deposits of some state warrants that cost the city money. Chief Deputy State Auditor, Warren Jenkins, says the Stockport case is like others, as a few simple actions by the city government could have headed off problems.
“Involvement by the city council members is very important in ensuring number one: that they know what is happening; number two that they approve what is happening and number three: essentially that they provide a level of oversight and control that will prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future,” Jenkins says.
Smaller cities have smaller staffs working with city funds, making it harder to have more than one person overseeing fund. But Jenkins says the smaller cities also have less transactions that need to be reviewed by the city council.
“Therefore it doesn’t take much time to look at a bank statement to look at a bank reconciliation, to look at a check listing to see that the checks that cleared the bank were the ones that the council had approved,” Jenkins says. “A lot of it is just getting into a routine making sure that the council will review this stuff and provide a deterrent to somebody who might otherwise feel that they have a need to do something like this.”
Jenkins says council members and elected officials have opportunities to learn more about oversight. “The league of cities does provide the opportunity for training. A lot of it is just good business sense. They are the types of things any savvy business person would know to do that should be transferred over to the city council,” according the Jenkins.
In the Stockport case, the former city clerk, Beverly Runyon, was found in the audit, to have misspent or left deposited almost $50,000 of city money. That includes over $15,000 in salary overpayments to Runyon. Runyon was fired in October or 2011.
The audit has been forwarded to state and county officials who would be in charge of prosecuting the case if it goes to court.