Supervisors receive audit update

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By Pat McTaggart

Freelance Journalist

The Clayton County Supervisors last Friday received an update on the annual county audit that is now underway. Neil Schraeder of Hacker, Nelson and Co., P.C., gave the update. He noted that work is progressing and added that he has received good cooperation from Special Deputy Auditor Loyce Dumke and the auditor’s staff.

Dumke was hired last August for a 90-day period to manage the office while Auditor Dennis Freitag deals with his wife’s ongoing medical problems. Her last day is Friday, Nov. 20. 

According to Supervisor Ron McCartney, Dumke was hired after  Freitag “was visited by two members of the Clayton County Republican Central Committee who expressed concerns about his job performance and about the day-to-day running of his office.” 

Last month the supervisors questioned Freitag about those matters. They noted Freitag’s limited contact with his staff, failure to complete necessary reports for last year’s budget and keeping checks and county records at his home. On Oct. 28 the supervisors voted to pursue Chapter 66 of the Iowa Code, which makes provisions to remove an elected official from his or her office.  A formal request was then sent to the Attorney General’s Office to determine whether a Chapter 66 review petition would be appropriate.

“The audit is going well with the help of Loyce and the office staff, so we should be in pretty good shape but we have some concerns,” Schraeder said.  “Since Loyce will be gone at the end of next week, if we have findings or problems, who will be our contact person and who will respond to any questions that we might have? We located some invoices, but we don’t know whether or not they have been paid.  Some checks that were found have not yet been cashed. There is also a bank account concerning township cemeteries that only has Dennis Freitag’s name on the signature card, so no one else in the office can access it. You are also spending money from the fiscal year 2016 budget for invoices that should have come out of the FY 2015 budget.”

When the supervisors asked Dumke about the invoices, she confirmed that some of them were not yet paid. She also said that one check brought from Freitag’s home was from the State of Iowa from 2013. “It was less than $100 and was invalid by now,” she said.

Although the supervisors will continue discussing the staffing situation in the auditor’s office, Supervisor Larry Gibbs admitted they don’t know what they’re going to do.

The Supervisors will continuing discussing the auditor’s office staffing.“We are just taking this one day at a time,” McCartney added. “We really need to allow the system to play out before we make a decision.”

After the meeting, Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown conducted a series of private interviews with the supervisors and some county department heads concerning the Auditor’s Office and its functioning for the past few years.

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