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Friday, July 11, 2014



Can a governing body or government official take money or property given to it by another governing body that is meant for a specific purpose and use it for something else?

Ex: Money given to local government by state/county/fed for capital improvements - Can that money be used for something other than capital improvements?
Ex: Money given by taxpayers of a local government for the express purpose of paying for recycling bottles/cans/etc - Can that money be used for something other than recycling?

These are questions a city council might be concerned with.

Definitions, etc for guidance on questions related to misuse or misappropriation of funds/property/public funds/public property.

Misappropriation n. the intentional, illegal use of the property or funds of another person for one's own use or other unauthorized purpose, particularly by a public official, a trustee of a trust, an executor or administrator of a dead person's estate, or by any person with a responsibility to care for and protect another's assets (a fiduciary duty). It is a felony.

Misappropriation of public funds:
Public Funds may not be used for personal purposes. 

Misuse of public funds: 

(a) Each officer of this state, or of any county, city, town, or district of this state, and every other person charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer, or disbursement of public moneys, who either:
1. Without authority of law, appropriates the same, or any portion thereof, to his or her own use, or to the use of another; or,
2. Loans the same or any portion thereof; makes any profit out of, or uses the same for any purpose not authorized by law; or,
3. Knowingly keeps any false account, or makes any false entry or erasure in any account of or relating to the same; or,
4. Fraudulently alters, falsifies, conceals, destroys, or obliterates any account; or,
5. Willfully refuses or omits to pay over, on demand, any public moneys in his or her hands, upon the presentation of a draft, order, or warrant drawn upon these moneys by competent authority; or,
6. Willfully omits to transfer the same, when transfer is required by law; or,
7. Willfully omits or refuses to pay over to any officer or person authorized by law to receive the same, any money received by him or her under any duty imposed by law so to pay over the same
(b) As used in this section, "public moneys" includes the proceeds derived from the sale of bonds or other evidence or indebtedness authorized by the legislative body of any city, county, district, or public agency.


Key areas that might uncover misappropriation/misuse/fraud revolve around:
  •  contracts and the rewarding of contracts
  •  monies used by public officials/employees to purchase items
  •  the movement of money from one fund to another
  •  gifts
  •  travel, tips, meals
  •  interest earned
  •  bonuses
  •  pay raises, particularly unauthorized pay raises
  •  fringe benefits
  •  items marked as "other"
  •  hiring
  •  ticket-fixing
  •  areas where there are a  conflict of interest
  •  expenditures of public funds in election campaigns
  •  failure to record monies
  •  use of public employees for private benefit
  •  unauthorized/non-paid use of public property for private/campaign use [ex. billboard    leases]*
  •  failures to reimburse**

Always be suspicious when public employees/public officials don't answer pertinent questions that they should know the answers to (and it's within their area of expertise and/or job description). If you help pay that public employee's salary, it is unacceptable to not receive an answer, and there should be legal/acceptable consequences to follow. 



126.08 Director of budget and management - powers and duties.

 Side note:
Leadership:  A leader must shift from “having the answers” to “asking the right questions” as a means to broaden and deepen the problem solving capabilities of their teams.

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