BLOOMFIELD — Iowa Auditor Rob Sand released a reaudit report for Bloomfield on Monday that found significant problems in how the city approved projects and purchased supplies from July 2016 through the end of 2018.
The report said the city failed to follow its own ordinances on spending. The Bloomfield City Code requires a resolution for payment of more than $25,000 on any one project, or to sign off on completion of the work.
The city council approved six “projects or improvements” by motion rather than resolution. Those projects came to more than half a million dollars. The largest was $157,800 for sandblasting and painting of the city’s water tower.
Another $160,777 worth of supplies were purchased “through approval of the monthly claims listing” rather than by a motion or resolution. Those supplies were for the Solar Field project, according to Sand’s report.
But there were also serious issues with the city’s controls on seeking council approval prior to spending money. Auditors looked at 60 instances of city spending to ensure the city council ha approved payment before it was made. Thirteen of those instances — more than one in five — failed that test.
Those results led auditors to expand testing, and they found 88 instances in which claims were paid “prior to City Council approval, and seven disbursements greater than $7,500 [that] were not pre-approved by the city council as required.” The total claims came to more than $660,468. Slightly more than half of the amount were payments to contractors.
Payments for all amounts of more than $7,500 should have been approved by the council under a resolution passed in September 2017. Bloomfield’s response blamed city employees: “Staff needs to adhere to this established policy. With additional staff, we will be in a better position to identify these expenses.” Auditors accepted the response.
The failings weren’t just financial. Iowa law requires minutes of council meetings to be published within 15 days. Two meetings, one in September 2018 and a second in November of that year, were still awaiting publication in January 2019.
It is not clear what led to the state’s involvement. The report said only that a city official requested a reaudit for Fiscal 2017, and that the time frame was expanded based on what that initial check found.