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Sparks Fly Over Accusation During Council Meeting

Article Date: 
20 August, 2010 - 06:00

The County’s independent auditor reported in his findings in the council meeting on Tuesday.  The first item he reported upon was the Stoddard Bridge project.  Some questions had been raised about whether money had been appropriately handled and the council had asked for a special audit of these funds.  
The auditor reported, “Basically, we reviewed all the transactions and there is some really good news on this project and that is that you have managed to obtain a sizable grant to do this project.  It requires you to put in 15% match, which is $265,000… so as that project progresses your commitment is pretty much complete.  There was a joint checking account set up with Utah Department of Transportation.  $152,000, or so, was spent on engineering and testing firms.  We looked at all these disbursements; they were supported by invoices and check copies.  They appear to be proper and related expenses.  Final disbursements of over $188,000 to the Utah Department of Transportation, this should consummate your final match on that project. “  Chairman Creager questioned the auditor in detail and the auditor confirmed that all the transactions were appropriate and all monies had been properly handled.
Chairman Creager then addressed his comments to county treasurer and an exchange ensued.  
Creager said, “So Bonnie, my question would be to you, seeing as how you were the one… who made an accusal [accusation] of a $265,000 embezzlement that has widely circulated the county, does this satisfy your concerns?”
Thomson repined, “Member Creager, I don’t ever remember making any kind of an accusation of a $265,000 embezzlement.”
Creager replied, “Bonnie I can tell you that you made that accusation to me and I am willing to go on the record for that, an I am also willing to go on the record that you were unwillingness to talk with anyone on the council, or for that matter Mr. Day, but you were very willing to walk into the attorney’s office and request an investigation.”
Thomson said, “When I spoke with you Sid, I asked you if you knew about the $265,000 check that had been taken out of the road bond.  Your response to me was, ‘No, I don’t know about it, but I will find out for you.’  That was the conversation we had and I will also go on record that I did talk to Mr. Day about it several times.  He responded to me when I asked who he gave the $265,000 check to, he said, ‘ I can’t remember exactly, there were so many people in the room that day.’”
Creager then replied, “ Bonnie, I can tell you that the council has requested an independent audit to validate the integrity of all people involved.  I think that it is time for the dust to settle and accept the fact that there has been nothing that has been done inappropriately.   That right to the very penny there has been an independent audit to validate and verify everything that is in that nature…”
The independent auditor did remind Chairman Creager that the auditor and the treasurer have responsibility to account for the funds of the county.  He further expressed the view that he could understand that the separate account created to work with the state would cause some questions from the treasurer.
Creager was clearly agitated by the interaction, and unusually for him, was at times struggling to find his words.  Creager has stepped to the defense of Day repeatedly as attacks have been made over the past several months.  Creager seems determined to bring any accusations into the light and settle them.  Day is planning to leave county employment in the next ninety days.
The auditor then reported that in addition to the Stoddard review, in the remainder of its audit the County had received a clean bill of health.  The auditor reviewed accounting procedures used by the county and whether the county is in compliance with appropriate cash control practices.  The audit also reviewed whether money was spent appropriately for the purpose intended.
 The auditor observed that while the county’s expenditures were up, that this was due entirely to planned expenditures on road improvements.  He also commented that this was a good time to be spending on road improvements given that costs were currently low for this construction.   
The auditor raised a few items that the County may like to investigate.  He said that fees levied by the courts were down about $30,000 and that State and Federal revenue was down significantly.  He commended the county for its fiscal constraint and particularly focused on savings from council administration, and human resource savings.  If the road expenditures are excluded, the County has reduced its expenditures by approximately $300,000.
The auditor also reported that nearly all of the items raised in the audit report last year had been resolved and that he was working on any remaining items with Bonnie (the county treasurer).
The auditor’s closing comments were, “The report is real positive, you have good financial management.  I appreciate the efforts of Stacy, Bonnie, and Garth, and everyone involved in the financial management of the county.”