Special investigation report released on City of Atkins by State Auditor

Auditor of State Rob Sand today released a report on a special investigation of the City of Atkins for the period July 1, 2015 through January 31, 2021. The special investigation was requested by City officials as a result of concerns regarding certain financial transactions processed by the former City Clerk, Amber Bell.

Sand reported the special investigation identified $51,598.59 of improper disbursements, $21,255.38 of unsupported disbursements, and $27,941.53 of unbilled and uncollected utility billings. However, because City records were not sufficiently maintained, it was not possible to determine if additional amounts were improperly disbursed or if additional utility transactions were improperly recorded or not properly billed and/or collected.
Sand reported the $51,598.59 of improper disbursements identified includes:

  • $9,074.24 of unauthorized payroll costs resulting from excess wages, excess comp time payments, holiday bonus checks, and separation agreement payments issued to Ms. Bell;
  • $7,717.90 of reimbursement checks issued to Ms. Bell for health insurance and other costs;
  • $21,291.37 of net insurance premiums for coverage of City employees that were not properly deducted from the employees’ payroll;
  • $3,275.25 of improper purchases made with the City’s credit card, late fees, and interest;
  • $3,799.16 of improper payments to vendors and cash withdrawals; and
  • $567.83 of late fees and interest to IPERS.

The $21,255.38 of unsupported disbursements identified is composed of transactions for which the City could not provide supporting documentation, including reimbursements to Ms. Bell, purchases made with the City’s credit card and purchases from vendors. Sand also reported, while each of the instances of unbilled and uncollected utility billings identified resulted in lost revenue to the City, it was not possible to determine which specific transactions identified, if any were utility payments received by the City which were not properly deposited in the City’s bank account because sufficient records were not available. The unbilled and uncollected utility billings include $23,526.53 of billings that should have been billed for services but were not, and $4,270.00 of fees that were not properly billed to customers.

Sand recommended City officials implement procedures to ensure the City’s internal controls are strengthened, including segregation of duties, performing utility reconciliations, performing independent review of bank statements, and ensuring all disbursements are properly supported, approved, and paid in a timely manner.

Copies of the report have been filed with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Benton County Attorney’s Office, and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. A copy of the report is available for review on the Auditor of State’s web site at Special Interest Reports.


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