Steve Green's 32-year career as general manager of the Creston, Iowa, Water Works ended Friday after the State Auditor's Office released a report alleging that he took nearly $90,000 in improper or undocumented payments.
“His contract was terminated by the board of trustees … because of the findings set forth in the June 21, 2013, State Auditor's report,” said Lee McNichols, chairman of the Creston Water Board.
According to the auditor's report, Green, now 61, took additional pay, retirement contributions, unauthorized vacation payouts and petty cash between 2005 and 2012.
Investigators also found a generator and other equipment in his possession purchased with Water Works money. The total amount of the payments and goods was $86,780. The audit also found about $3,056 in petty cash payments without enough documentation to determine if they were proper.
The state auditor was alerted to the case last year after an annual audit revealed unauthorized payouts of vacation benefits and raised allegations that Green improperly had equipment in his possession.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation searched three garages on a property in Creston on Nov. 16 and seized a generator, two step ladders, a pressure washer and a tool box, according to court documents. Green was placed on leave that same day.
The audit was provided to local and state law enforcement. Messages left with the Union County Sheriff's Office and Union County attorney were not returned.
A phone number for Green was disconnected.
Creston Water Works in southwest Iowa provides water and sewer service to about 7,841 residents and businesses in the region. Green oversaw all operations, reporting to the five-member governing board. Its operating budget is a little more than $5 million per year.
The report offers suggestions to the board on how to strengthen oversight, such as establishing written policies for using credit cards and vehicles, as well as establishing a detailed equipment list.
McNichols said the board is rewriting its policies, to bring them in line with the report's recommendations. It has eliminated most petty cash, and McNichols and another board member now carefully review all expenses before the board approves them.
“Do your due diligence and oversight,” he warned other public officials.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.