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July 27, 2013

State won't reopen books

CLINTON — The state of Iowa has turned down a request from two Clinton City Councilmen to re-audit the city’s finances, claiming their apparently well-founded concerns were addressed in the city’s most recent audit.

In a letter written this week to At-large Councilman John Rowland and Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman, Deputy Auditor Andrew Nielsen recognized the city’s issues with sewer and solid waste accounts, outstanding debt, customer billings and collections and overall financial concerns that were raised by the councilmen in October.

The state informed the city’s independent auditors Winkel, Parker and Foster of the concerns so they would be taken into account when the Clinton firm performed the fiscal year 2012 audit.

“While your issues and concerns appear to be well-founded, we believe the independent auditors have addressed the issues within the scope of the fiscal 2012 audit, including appropriate findings and recommendations,” Nielsen wrote.

After reviewing the audit, the state decided not to re-examine the city’s finances, but directed the city to take steps that will improve its financial situation.

“City officials are responsible for the resolution of these issues and

all with city administrative staff should continue to address and monitor the results of the financial condition of the city as well as other planned corrective measures,” Nielsen wrote.

The State Auditor’s office recommended the city develop an action plan to address the city’s challenges, including specific steps, who would complete those steps, and completion target date. They also suggested the city implement a periodic review process to evaluate the progress of such a plan.

Rowland said he wasn’t surprised or disappointed by the state’s decision.

“The state reviewed the Winkel, Parker, Foster audit. So in a sense, they have done an audit as far as I’m concerned. This just means they are not coming to Clinton. I’m satisfied,” Rowland said.

The latest audit contained more recommendations and notations than previous audits, which he feels is the right direction for the city.

“I’m very satisfied that there is going to be substantial improvement and I have faith in (City Administrator and Finance Director) Jessica (Kinser),” Rowland said. “I think all the parties recognize what needs to happen.”

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