State Auditor makes stop in Jones County

Rob Sand, Iowa State Auditor, spoke with constituents in Anamosa on Oct. 15. He addressed things he’s accomplished since taking office, and highlighted what he’d like to get done after the legislature returns in January. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand stopped in Jones County on Oct. 15 during one of his many Eastern Iowa town hall meetings. 

He met with about a dozen constituents in Anamosa’s city hall, highlighting not only items his office has accomplished since Sand took office 10 months ago, but goals he has moving forward when the Iowa Legislature starts in January. 

“It’s not very common, I know, to have a state auditor travel around. But we’re doing a lot of good stuff in this office. And I think the best way for all of you to hear about it is for me to travel to you.” 

Sand campaigned on hiring law enforcement officials to serve in the State Auditor’s Office, as well as turn the office into a bi-partisan one. 

Sand hired two law enforcement officials who have years of experience in state patrol, health and human services, and financial crime. 

“In the past, decisions were being made that would not have been made by law enforcement professionals,” he said. “When you’re conducting a special investigation that you expect might end up in a courtroom, you need to be running it through someone’s brain that thinks the way a courtroom works.” 

Sand also replaced three retiring employees with a Democrat, Republican, and Independent. 

“To me, it’s really important that people are represented in this state even if they don’t share someone’s political party.” 

Sand’s office also plans to launch their PIE (Public Innovations & Efficiencies) initiative in the new year. 

“This is an office that, according to Chapter 11 in the Iowa Code, always had the authority to make efficiency recommendations to local and county government,” explained Sand. “But it never has.” 

There are three components to PIE: the PIE Chart, the PIE Contest and the PIE Recipe. Cities and counties can go online to access a checklist to make sure they’re being efficient when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money. Sand said in the end, it not only saves taxpayers money, it saves the local governments money too. 

“This all provides a little partnership with local & county government, as well as a little bit of a push at the same time,” he said. 

Sand also plans to introduce two bills to the Iowa Legislature. One will help to create jobs in small-town Iowa. The other will help to hold felons accountable when it comes to the theft of taxpayer funds. 

Sand’s statewide jobs and work initiative will allow state auditor employees to work from home, in their hometowns rather than uproot themselves and their families to Des Moines. He said this program would save the state money in the long run because these employees won’t need to stay in hotels, just drive a bit further. 

Sand said it’s a win-win-win-win. 

“I have yet to think of a downside,” he said. 

It’s a win for the employees. They’ll be asked to work from either Des Moines, Ames or Iowa City for their first year. After that, they can move back “home” or anywhere in Iowa. 

“It doesn’t make any sense that everyone from the auditor’s office has to live in Des Moines,” said Sand. “If you would rather live in Anamosa, we can make you happier by letting you move back to your small town.” 

It’s a win for the auditor’s office. Sand said it would make his staff more efficient and see less turnover over time. 

“We have a turnover rate that I have never imagined in state office in Iowa. What we’re trying to do is lower that. We spend a huge amount of taxpayer resources training new employees. And then they leave. If we let people live where they want, they’ll like their job more.” 

It’s a win for their clients. 

“Ninety percent of our budget is actually self-generated. We bill our clients for the work that we do,” explained Sand. 

He said this initiative would allow their clients to work with the same staff members every day, and result in lower costs because these employees will be able to cut down on their travel expenses. 

It’s a win for the State of Iowa. 

“Jobs are needed in small communities. Des Moines is doing fine. Statewide elected officials do not need to be looking out for Des Moines. They need to be looking out for small communities, smaller towns.” 

The other bill Sand is passionate about will see to it that those who embezzle taxpayer dollars are held accountable. 

“One of the most frustrating things that we can see in the criminal justice system is people in positions of trust and power not held accountable when they abuse that trust and power,” said Sand. “We’re offering a bill that would make felony theft of taxpayer funds a mandatory prison sentence.” 

Sand said the hope is to deter federal crimes like this, knowing the end result is time in prison. 

“It’s a very narrow bill. I’m hopeful that the legislature will take it up.” 


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