RIVER BARGE SYSTEM AT RISK: The Mississippi River and Ohio River system of locks and dams above St. Louis is vital to Iowa’s and much of the nation’s economy because of the immense volume of products that move on the river barges at a cost lower than other forms of long-distance transportation. However, the trust fund (funded by a diesel fuel tax) that, in a 50-50 cost share with the Army Corps of Engineers, pays for repairs and improvements is woefully short of the money needed to maintain the system.
SMALL TOWN FRAUD: A study by the state auditor’s office, which looked at two six-year periods, found that fraud involving city employees in towns under 2,000 residents had increased 350 percent in the period ending in 2011. This is more evidence that a new state law that takes effect July 14, requiring more frequent audits in small towns, looks like a welcome mandate. It also may strain these communities’ budgets a bit more in order to pay for more frequent audits, but the deterrent effect and stepped-up safeguards should be worthwhile in the long run for those municipalities that can’t afford several layers of staffing oversight.
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