Atkins city clerk responsible for more than $51K in improper payments, report finds

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 10:48 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATKINS, Iowa (KCRG) - State Auditor Rob Sand released a report Wednesday detailing improper financial transactions processed by former Atkins City Clerk Amber Bell.

City officials requested the investigation due to concerns over the transactions. Bell, who was hired to serve as city clerk in 2015, was placed on paid administrative leave during a city council meeting in November 2020.

In the role, Bell was responsible for handling the city’s mail, collecting receipts, making some purchases and bank deposits as well as signing and distributing checks, among other duties.

Sand’s 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.

The improper disbursements identified include more than $9,000 in unauthorized payroll costs from excess wages, excess comp time payments, holiday bonus checks and separation agreement payments issued to Bell.

The report also found more than $7,700 in reimbursement checks were reportedly issued to Bell for health insurance and other costs, and nearly $21,300 in net insurance premiums coverage for city employees that were not properly deducted from employees’ payroll.

Nearly $3,300 in improper purchases were also reportedly made with the city’s credit card, including late fees and interest. More than $560 in late fees and interest to IPERS was also found.

Sand’s report also found that it isn’t possible to determine if there were more improper disbursements because city records were not sufficiently maintained.

In his report, Sand recommended city officials implement procedures to ensure the city’s internal controls are strengthened.

Subscribe to KCRG-TV9 on YouTube: Find exclusive video, video from the KCRG-TV9 video vault and more – click here