County audit points to employee perks, duties

Burlington attorney Stonerook hired to replace Stensvaag in County Attorney’s office

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – A state audit of Lee County books came out relatively clean aside from dings on employees perks that were accepted on an EMS visit, and segregation of duties around cash handling.

At Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Budget Director Cindy Renstrom said the audit came back with some regular segregation issues where the state would like to see more distinct compliance on cash handling within county departments.

The audit also pointed to a visit Lee County Ambulance staff took to an ambulance manufacturing facility to select ambulances for the county.

According to Renstrom, the manufacturer paid for hotel rooms and meals for four people who went down to visit the facility.

Renstrom said the county personnel policy spells out that employees can’t accept those types of gifts.

“We completely missed that, which is a no-no,” Renstrom said.

“We need to do some kind of training that we can’t accept anything from any vendors. We told the state auditors we would implement some training on that.”

Renstrom said the auditors spoke with the Lee County Attorney’s office about resolving the issue going forward, but no reimbursement was ordered.

The segregation of duties remarks have been common in past audits and several department heads, including Lee County Engineer Ben Hull, said it’s a staffing issue.

Renstrom said the county should start to look at options to get the issues resolved because the marks on the audit caused one of the county’s insurance policies to see an increased deductible from $2,000 to $20,000.

“We seriously need to look at that and see if there’s a way to try to take care of those issues. It could be as much as sitting down with the state auditor when they are here and go over what we can do to alleviate those dings we get,” she said.

Supervisor Chairman Matt Pflug said one suggestion in the audit was for the sheriff’s department to hire an additional full-time person to handle cash received at the department.

WEBER

“Not happening,” Weber said. “This is videotaped and we’re in the office and we’ve never had an issue with anyone being dishonest.”

Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise said she thinks the county department heads all do a decent job, and there have been efforts to rotate people in to other departments to open mail to try to satisfy the audit comments in the past.

FRAISE

“I can see where they’re at,” Fraise said. “They just don’t want any potential for fraud. That’s why they’re dinging us on those.”

She said the county also needs to take closer looks at questionable expenditures.

“Before you make a purchase, you have to consider if the whole county is going to benefit from it. That’s the definition of a public purpose,” she said.

Pflug said the county is in good shape with the state and always has good audits.

PFLUG

“I think overall we always have a good audit and we’re always in good graces with the state auditors,” he said. “The important thing is as elected officials, we talk about fiduciary transparency and I think we do a decent job in that area.”

But he said it might be beneficial to address some of the recurring issues now rather than wait for the next visit from auditors.

In other action, supervisors:
• voted 3-1 to approve the 2023 fiscal year budget. Ron Fedler opposed the budget and has since the county approved pay increases for county staff.
• voted 4-0, to approve the hiring of Justin Stonerook, a former Des Moines County Assistant Attorney and Burlington lawyer, as an Assistant Lee County Attorney to replace Jonathan Stensvaag, who was recently appointed to a judicial seat in District 8B.

1 thought on “County audit points to employee perks, duties

  1. County governments answer to any problem is always hire some more people. Give some huge raises while they are at it! Pathetic behavior.

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