This week’s ruling by a magistrate judge to dismiss two of the county’s three cases aiming to clear up concerns from several audits was disappointing to Appanoose County Supervisor Mark Waits.
Waits, returning a request for comment by the Daily Iowegian on Tuesday, said the county will continue to try and address findings noted in several audits and a special audit report that was released in 2018.
The two suits dismissed this week were small claims filings against fired Appanoose County Conservation Director Mark Hoffman and his daughter Amber Hoffman. The county continues to have a lawsuit against the Appanoose Conservation Foundation, which is set for trial in October.
Waits said the county was trying to use their court action to address the audit and decide the issues.
“Very disappointed in the magistrate’s ruling,” Waits said. “I can’t speak for the other two, but I am very disappointed. The board will continue to work, hopefully, to address findings in the audits on a timely basis. I think one of the problems that we’re dealing with, as a board, is we’re dealing with findings in audits that go back to 2012.”
He said he hoped future boards would address audit findings as they appear.
The county sued Mark Hoffman after an auditor said he should not have been paid out his unused compensation time when he was terminated in February 2016. The audit reported he was an exempted employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and thus would not have qualified for compensation time under the Appanoose County employee handbook.
The court in its dismissal ruled there was not enough evidence to establish that Mark Hoffman was an exempt employee, thus as a non-exempt employee the payment was proper.
In the other dismissed case, the county sought five years of rent payments made by Amber Hoffman, who stayed at the Sharon Bluffs residence. The conservation foundation owned the property for most of the time she resided there, however, after the county transferred that property to the foundation.
The court ruled that some of Amber Hoffman’s rent payments when the county owned the residence potentially should have gone to the county instead, but in that instance, the county’s claim would be against the foundation, not Amber Hoffman. Requiring her to pay the five years of rent would be requiring her to pay rent twice, the court ruled when dismissing the claim.
Kyle Ocker can be reached at email@example.com or by calling the newsroom at 641-856-6336. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.