Riverside audit to go before city leaders in early January

Investigation cited $64,062 in disbursements deemed improper, another $274,047 in disbursements without approval

Published: December 23 2013 | 3:00 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:14 am in
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A state audit that found thousands of dollars in improper and unauthorized spending by Riverside city staff will get a public airing before City Council in early January.

City administrator Rusty Rogerson said he plans to add the audit to the Jan. 6 agenda, so the city can officially receive the 41-page report. Among other findings, the investigation cited $64,062 in disbursements deemed improper, and another $274,047 in disbursements paid prior to City Council approval.

City Council member Chris Kirkwood said she expects the January meeting to draw a large community turnout and a lengthy discussion by residents and council members.

The audit had been in the works for more than a year, and many in the community knew it was coming, she said.

"I'm really sad it turned out this way," said Kirkwood, who's been on the council since 2011. "(But), I am glad the report isn't saying something illegal was done."

Kirkwood said she hopes people take a big picture view of the findings.

The town of 1,000 people just south of Iowa City had experienced rapid change in recent years including a new casino, annexation issues and a developer pushing a $150 million rain forest on the town, she said. City hall originally was an office of one and unaccustomed to the new demands, she said.

"City government has run on a shoestring budget for years and years," Kirkwood said. "It took a big shift in thinking to deal with this. To say people were learning as they went along, is a fair thing to say."

For now, stakeholders must wait to finding out whether punishment is forthcoming for Riverside or individuals named in the audit. All but one of the people named in the audit no longer work for the city, Rogerson said.

Washington County Attorney Larry Brock, who would pursue the sanctions, has been out of the office since the audit was released on Friday. Rogerson, who requested the audit shortly after being hired in August 2012, said he plans to seek a meeting with Brock as soon as Monday.

Among several findings, the investigation released on Friday detailed $26,756.35 of unauthorized payments by the city into staff's flexible spending accounts for health care, $24,260 in improper sick leave payouts and $4,900.98 in improper vacation payouts.

The audit also found $274,047 in disbursements paid prior to City Council approval, $32,016.94 that did not have sufficient documentation and $10,289.10 that were paid without City Council approval, although none of these payments were considered improper.

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