Johnson County creates new finance department


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Two members of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors say the creation of a new Finance Department last week was not in response to past purchases made by the previous county auditor that some labeled controversial.

During a June 6 meeting at the Johnson County Administration Building, 913 S. Dubuque St., the supervisors paved through the approval process for the introduction of the new governmental agency.

“We’ve been talking about it for several years,” Supervisor Pat Harney said. “Now, we have a new auditor, and the treasurer was agreeable, so it was just a good time to put this together.”

With that introduction of the new office comes the installation of a new head of finance.

Dana Aschenbrenner was hired as the head of the Finance Department during the meeting. The Iowa City resident will move from his current deputy position in the Treasury Department when that position is eliminated.

Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said the creation of the new department will be “budget neutral” because three jobs are being created as three are eliminated.

The remaining two new positions have not yet been filled.

Harney said the new department pulls the county’s finance people together into one team.

In addition to cutting Aschenbrenner’s current position, Harney said, the supervisors will lose their budget coordinator, and the Auditor’s Office will eliminate one undetermined position.

Richard Claiborne was hired as the county budget coordinator in October 2005. According to the Johnson County website, Claiborne directs and administers the fiscal-year budgets for the supervisors, along with assuming administrative responsibility for the budget process including planning, budgeting, monitoring, analyzing, and evaluating data for the county. He also serves as a liaison between county departments and the supervisors.

Attempts at contacting Claiborne were unsuccessful as of Sunday evening.

Under the new position, Aschenbrenner will not have a contract, and his salary will be just over $70,000, Neuzil said.

Harney said the former auditor, Tom Slockett, was “resistant” to creating a finance department, but he denied that the department was created in response to Slockett’s purchase of $69,350 worth of voting machines for which the supervisors had only authorized $4,130 in December 2011.

“It never occurred to me not to purchase them because we need them to keep [voting] lines from forming,” Slockett told The Daily Iowan in an Oct. 25 interview following the controversy, “The funds were set aside in the technology fund.”

Slockett could not be reached for comment as of Sunday evening.

Neuzil said the department is being created in part because of “past discrepancies in regards to how things are being spent.”

He said it was not his intent to create the department in response to Slockett’s actions. “The Auditor’s Office in that particular case certainly has the right to make certain kinds of expenditures, even if we don’t like them," he said.

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