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Iowa Watchdog

City clerk costs Farmington $247,000

7/29/2013

DES MOINES – A former city clerk in Farmington failed to properly bill $210,000 in utilities and cost the city $36,257 in late fees, according to an audit report released this morning.

Additionally, auditors found Nichole Jarvis spent more than $760 on personal purchases using a city credit card. They included groceries, a vacuum cleaner, pet stain and odor detergent, ink, aqua globes and party supplies. Officials also found that Jarvis only worked 72-74 hours every two weeks when she was paid to work 80 hours, the report showed.

Farmington city clerk costs town $247,000 in improper billing, late fees and personal purchases made with taxpayer money.

Farmington city clerk costs town $247,000 in improper billing, late fees and personal purchases made with taxpayer money.

Jarvis, who was hired in 2007, was fired from her position in November.

Utility costs were not billed, collected or correctly deposited by Jarvis. Auditors also noted improper disbursements and obligations.

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State auditors recommended the city strengthen internal controls over its funds. Also, under their recommendations, officials noted the city failed to keep sufficient financial records, maintain a rental calendar for the Community Center, pay vendors in a timely manner or submit IPERS benefit reports. Auditors also found the city council was out of compliance with state law, which requires government agencies to take minutes of meetings and approve their accuracy.

The special investigation was sparked by inconsistencies found in financial statements while Jarvis was on medical leave. The mayor found the check register did not match the checks issued, electrical service was about ready to be turned off at city properties because the bills had not been paid and $15,000 worth of late fees were discovered.

The matter has been turned over to the Van Buren county attorney’s office. No one from the office was available Monday. A working number for Jarvis was not listed.

Farmington is a town of 650 people and employs a city clerk, two maintenance workers and a married couple that maintain the city’s park.

Contact Sheena Dooley at dooley@iowawatchdog.org. Sheena Dooley is the Iowa bureau chief for Watchdog.org, where this story first appeared.

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