116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
VINING - The mayor for the tiny Tama County city of Vining said the community has managed to get by after the former city clerk there misappropriated tens of thousands of dollars of city funds.
'We've been able to keep our heads above water, let's put it that way,” said George Bazal, mayor of Vining, population 50. 'Just barely, but we've managed.”
Bazal said the city council tried to appropriate some funding for some road projects last May, only to find out the funding wasn't there.
'We probably thought we were just running a little low on cash,” he said.
That changed on May 23, 2014, when Nanci Parizek, the Vining city clerk, turned herself into the Tama County Sheriff's Office and admitted to issuing herself checks from city funds, according to State Auditor Mary Mosiman. Mosiman said Parizek told a deputy she had been misusing city funds 'for years” and the only way she was going to stop is if she turned herself in. While she told herself she would pay back the money, that never happened.
'It spiraled out of control,” Mosiman said.
Mosiman said Vining's size left it vulnerable to misappropriation of city funds. Before 2013, small cities such as Vining had no audit requirements unless one was petitioned for by the citizens or called for by city staff. A new law put into place in 2013 now subjects those tiny communities to at least one audit every eight years.
Mosiman's office conducted a special investigating into the City of Vining for the period Parizek was the part-time city clerk, May 2008 through May 2014. The investigation, which was released last week, found $32,243.27 in improper and unsupported disbursements, including:
$23,413.18 in improper reimbursements to Parizek.
$3,218.88 of improper payroll to Parizek.
$2,005 in cash withdrawals from the city's bank account by Parizek.
$1,342.34 in improper reimbursements to Parizek's husband, former city council member David Parizek.
$195 in bank overdraft charges.
$162.43 in late fees and penalties to IPERS.
Mosiman said Parizek's misappropriation began in June 2008 and continued until she turned herself in. It likely went undetected because of the lack of audit, lack of oversight from the city council and the nature of Parizek's thefts. Mosiman said Parizek only reimbursed herself small amounts periodically.
In 2008, Parizek wrote herself two checks with an average amount of $35. In 2009, she wrote 24 checks with an average amount of $247. During the last few years, Parizek's checks to herself only averages around $200 each, Mosiman said.
Included in Mosiman's reports are recommendations to the city of Vining. She said the two biggest things communities can do to prevent misappropriation of funds like this is to have adequate oversight and to ensure financial actions are properly documented.
Mayor Bazal said the community didn't wait for the auditor's report and implemented changes 'immediately” after Parizek resigned in May 2014. Those changes include requiring two signatures on all city checks and bank statements going to a city council member or the mayor.
The city has also hired a new city clerk, Bazal said.
'It was a hassle,” he said. 'You go in there blind because you don't have any idea where the funds are going or where they are coming from.”
Information on whether Parizek has been charged in connection could not be found online. A message left with the Tama County Sheriff's Office was not immediately returned Monday afternoon.