Cityscape — November 2014
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Guest's Viewpoint
Mary Mosiman, CPA

Greetings from the Iowa Office of Auditor of State (AOS). I am Auditor of State Mary Mosiman, and I am proud to represent this Office. Our goal is to serve the people of Iowa by helping ensure government is open and accountable to its citizens. Our audit and examination work helps make sure government activities are conducted in an effective, efficient and legal manner.

The City Examination law was effective July 1, 2013 and is intended to help provide oversight of all cities. Prior to this law, a majority of Iowa’s cities had no audit requirements and, therefore, no independent review of financial operations. Audit requirements were previously based on population only.

Cities with a population of 2,000 or more are required to have annual audits as in the past. Cities with populations fewer than 2,000 are now required to have either annual or periodic examinations depending on whether budgeted expenditures exceed $1,000,000 for 2 consecutive years. Cities subject to periodic examinations can choose to have annual examinations or annual audits. Cities subject to annual examinations can choose to have annual audits. In other words, it is always acceptable for a city to choose to have more oversight than required.

A city will continue to be required to have a Single Audit performed in any year the city expends $500,000 ($750,000 for fiscal years 2016 and after) or more in federal funds and citizens may use the petition process to require an audit.

An examination is a set of procedures narrower in scope than an audit. These procedures are designed to focus on the financial processes of a city to help ensure accountability and compliance with legal requirements to help minimize the opportunity for fraud. The procedures include (to name a few):

• Review selected City Council meeting minutes for compliance

• Review the City’s internal controls to identify potential risks and provide recommendations to strengthen controls

• Review the City’s financial reports and bank reconciliations to determine whether the bank balances properly reconcile to the general ledger account balances and monthly financial reports provided to the City Council

• Review the City’s debt and tax increment financing for proper authorization and legal compliance (if applicable)

• Review selected receipts for accurate accounting

• Review selected disbursements for proper approval, supporting documentation, accurate accounting and compliance with the public purpose criteria

• Review transfers between funds for propriety

• Review selected payroll and related transactions for proper authorization and accurate accounting

An examination is less expensive than an audit. Individual city requirements and applicable fees are available on the AOS web page at and may also be accessed via a link on the Department of Management web page at

We greatly appreciate the cooperation of Iowa’s city leaders in implementing this law. We know all cities want to effectively govern for their citizens, and the AOS can be a resource in this effort.

State Auditor Mary Mosiman, CPA