Audits as a theft deterrent in small town Iowa

News

March 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A raft of embezzlement cases in small town Iowa has prompted legislators to draft a bill that would require an audit of small town accounts at least once every eight years. Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone, says in the past five years state auditors have reviewed the books in 32 different cities that had fewer than 700 residents. “The amount of fraud that was uncovered in those 32 smaller cities totaled $1.4 million,” Baltimore says. “…For some of these small cities, the amount of the fraud exceeded their annual revenues.”

 The city accounts in Iowa towns with fewer than two-thousand residents are not currently required to be audited and Baltimore says it’s time to change that. “If a city and the city employees know there’s going to , they will be less inclined to try to embezzle funds,” Baltimore says. 

The bill to require audits in small Iowa cities at least once every eight years has cleared the Government Oversight Committee and now goes before the full House for consideration. The latest case of small-town theft uncovered by a state audit involved the city clerk in the small, central Iowa town of Dexter. The theft occurred over a six-year period, but it wasn’t discovered until after the clerk died and others began sifting through the town’s accounts.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)