Bland aldermen discuss financial accountability with park board

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 8/5/20

BLAND — Bland aldermen visited with Park Board President Lee Nielsen July 13 and discussed the financial accountability that the park board needs to maintain to become permanent holders of the …

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Bland aldermen discuss financial accountability with park board

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BLAND — Bland aldermen visited with Park Board President Lee Nielsen July 13 and discussed the financial accountability that the park board needs to maintain to become permanent holders of the park’s financial accounts.

Nielsen asked aldermen July 13 if they would return park finances to his treasurer Allie Nielsen, who is also his daughter.

“Is Allie taking over the financial thing as treasurer?” Nielsen asked after he gave aldermen a report about the Bland Fireworks Day.

Aldermen voted to remove the checkbook from the park board’s handling in March and took their names off of the checking account after the city clerk struggled to acquire all receipts to account for taxpayer dollars that the park board spent.

Nielsen generally attends the monthly meetings, and did so again in June. He advised at that time that his board was working to be trained so they could understand what needed to be done and what needed to be submitted. He asked the aldermen to consider returning the park’s checkbook and reinstating their spending capability. Aldermen discussed what they needed and agreed that if those items were submitted, they would return the checkbook to the park board.

Bland Mayor Lee Medlock responded to Nielsen’s request first at the July meeting.

“The board makes the decision,” Medlock began, “but I think you need a little more training.”

City Clerk Carrie Krupp told Nielsen she needed all starting money back from the park board that they used for the fireworks day.

“It would probably be beneficial for you to get a cash register at the concession stand, so at the end of the day, we can see what all came through and went out,” said Alderman Diana Mayfield.

Nielsen argued that the park concession stand has four or five windows open and working at a time and everyone would be in line waiting for the register.

Krupp argued that they needed tallies on what was purchased and spent. Alderman Sherry Spraddling added that the concessions are run by many volunteers, not just the park board. The park board could appoint one cashier to handle the money.

“You can’t trust people anymore,” Krupp said while advocating for a cash register in hopes of being able to keep better track of where funds are spent.

Public Works Director Jason Lewis suggested even narrowing the amount of people handling funds to two persons instead of everyone.

Medlock said he thought tickets were a good idea.

“Discuss it with your board tomorrow night,” Spradling suggested.

Krupp added that it is always a good idea to plan ahead.

“I think you need to get with Allie and get a spreadsheet going to know where they’re at before handing money back,” Spradling suggested.

Krupp said she could get with Allie Nielsen, treasurer, to help her create a spreadsheet if needed.

“We have to find time for the park board and the city to get together,” Spradling said.

Medlock reminded the board that they did vote at the June meeting to give the checkbook back to the park board if that board submitted all items that the city needed to budget the park account.

“The stipulation was the fireworks receipt,” Medlock said.

“We don’t have signers on the account and won’t go through that until the next meeting when the minutes are approved,” Krupp said.

Medlock clarified that once the minutes from the July meeting are approved at the August meeting they needed to take the minutes to the bank and added on whoever is approved to be on the board’s checking account.

Krupp asked Nielsen if he wanted to speak with the park board at their meeting the following evening before deciding whose signature would be added to the account.

Nielsen said he thought it would be him and his daughter Allie Nielsen again.

“Jessica Johnson and Ashley Kottwitz are both members of the park board also,” Mayfield said. “Three of you are family (in park board positions). It would be better if the two of you were not account signatures together.”

Krupp added that they needed to have signs made and posted at the park pavilions about who to call for pavilion rentals. Nielsen agreed with the board and clerk that it would be best for the number on the signs to be city hall and that anyone interested in renting a facility should speak with Krupp. Nielsen told Krupp that the concession stand is not available to rent, unless it was maybe to an auction company, and then they could take 10 percent of the profits.

“We also need a list of vendors for the fall festival,” Nielsen said.

Mayfield told Nielsen to get a receipt book for the vendors’ deposits.

“Explanations are critical when we are dealing with public funds,” Mayfield said. “These things are irritating but necessary for tracking. We need to know what came out and what came in.”

Mayfield suggested having Ashley Kottwitz, Jessica Johnson and Allie Nielsen on the park’s checking account.

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