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Iowa auditor finds many thousands of dollars missing or mis-spent in Webster County Public Health Department

WEBSTER COUNTY, IOWA - As a result of concerns regarding certain financial transactions and at the request of County officials, Iowa Auditor Rob Sand conducted a special investigation of the Webster County Public Health Department, discovering thousands in mis-spent and missing funds.

Iowa Auditor Rob Sand
WEBSTER COUNTY, IOWA – As a result of concerns regarding certain financial transactions and at the request of County officials, Iowa Auditor Rob Sand conducted a special investigation of the Webster County Public Health Department, discovering thousands in mis-spent and missing funds.

According to the Iowa Auditor’s office:

Auditor of State Rob Sand today released a report on a special investigation of Webster County Public Health Department (Department) for the period July 1, 2016 through May 31, 2022. The special investigation was requested by County officials as a result of concerns regarding certain financial transactions processed by the former Public Health Director, Kari Prescott.

Sand reported the special investigation identified $24,436.00 of undeposited collections, $32,663.85 of questioned costs charged to the Federal Family Planning Grant, and $1,611.13 of unsupported disbursements. The $24,436.00 of undeposited collections includes $16,456.00 of fees for immunizations and $7,980.00 of fees for tuberculosis tests administered by the Department. Because sufficient records were not available, it was not possible to determine if funds were not collected, collected but not deposited, or split between uncollected and undeposited. Sand also reported it was not possible to determine if additional fees for other services were not properly deposited because adequate documentation was not available.

Sand also reported the procedures performed identified $32,663.85 of questioned costs related to payroll being improperly charged to the Family Planning Grant and $1,611.13 of unsupported mileage reimbursements issued to the former Public Health Director, Kari Prescott.

Sand further reported that the Department received COVID-19 Response grant funding for the period of January 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022. The grant allows for grantees to submit claims for reimbursement of administrative costs, or bill insurance companies for the administrative costs. The County cannot bill both the Grant and the insurance companies of the same administrative costs. An allegation was made the County double billed for these administrative costs. However, because of the lack of supporting documentation, we could not reconcile the amounts which should have been billed to the grant and insurance companies for administrative costs under the COVID 19 grant. As a result, we cannot determine if administrative costs were double billed.

The report includes recommendations to strengthen the Department’s internal controls and operations, such as improving segregation of duties, maintaining supporting documentation, and maintaining adequate financial records, including ledgers and receipt books. The report also includes a recommendation regarding proper oversight of Department operations by Webster County officials and Public Health Board members.

Reportedly, Kari Prescott was fired back in 2022 after allegations of a hostile work environment.

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