Government

After complaint, Tipton expands spending reports in meeting minutes

Resident complained to Iowa auditor, city complained to Rep. Bobby Kaufmann

The Tipton water tower overlooks the town square Aug. 10, 2015, in Tipton, Iowa. (The Gazette)
The Tipton water tower overlooks the town square Aug. 10, 2015, in Tipton, Iowa. (The Gazette)

You’ve heard about the squeaky wheel getting the grease.

Well, Carroll Last, 75, of Tipton, has no problem being squeaky about his concerns with the city of 3,200 as long as they get some attention.

Last, a retired county engineer’s office employee, started complaining in 2017 about Tipton not publishing all expenditures, or claims, in the City Council meeting minutes, as required by Iowa Code Chapter 372.13.

Monthly reports from the city treasurer show expenditures not included in the minutes, which Last contended made it difficult for the public to track how taxes are being spent. He acknowledged that he doesn’t have specific concerns about misspending in Tipton.

“I’m trying to get the city of Tipton to follow the law and their own city code,” he said.

The State Auditor’s Office agreed with Last and told City Finance Director Melissa Armstrong in a Feb. 8 letter the city is not in compliance with the law.

“Each month the total amount of expenditure from each fund is to be published, including the total amount of salaries,” wrote Jennifer Campbell, a manager in the auditor’s office.

Since that time, Armstrong has been trying to make sure all required information is included in monthly minutes.

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“We are working with our software to do a different report that will encompass all the claims,” she said.

Armstrong still is testing for accuracy, but hopes to have the expanded report available in the minutes after Monday’s council meeting.

City Manager Brian Wagner said Last’s complaint about how expenditures are reported was only one of 10 complaints Last and another resident have lodged with the State Auditor’s Office about Tipton since 2017. All the other complaints have not been validated by the state, according to a Feb. 21 letter from Campbell.

“The State Auditor’s Office only takes sides on compliance, transparency and efficiency,” Campbell wrote.

This letter came after Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, had a meeting with Auditor Rob Sand. Tipton officials had complained to Kaufmann about the frequent complaints from Last, and that was the reason the politician spoke to the auditor, Wagner told The Gazette.

“In this case, he was right,” Wagner said about Last’s concern about the minutes. “When we found out about it, we started checking in on what we needed to do. It didn’t leap to the top of our list.”

The State Auditor’s Office declined to answer questions about the complaints, referring The Gazette back to the letters. Like all Iowa cities of 2,000 or more residents, Tipton has an annual audit. There have been no findings in past reports, Armstrong said.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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