The Tooele County Budget Advisory Board has weighed in with action recommendations for the second time since being created last fall.
At Tuesday night’s county commission meeting, Toby Lee, a member of the advisory board, listed four items the eight-member board wants the commissioners to adopt as soon as possible.
They include written financial policies and procedures, internal financial and performance audits, a multi-year budget and authorizing the municipal services tax.
“The county does not have any established financial policies and procedures that can be followed universally across departments,” Lee said.
The county does have a purchasing procedure that is not equally interpreted and applied in all departments, he added.
“Written policies need to be adopted in the form of code,” said Lee. “Then they can be implemented and enforced across all departments.”
With written policies in place the county then needs to start audits of all departments to make sure policies are being followed and all departments are operating efficiently, Lee said.
He also recommended internal financial and performance audits scheduled on a rotational basis by department.
“We need to be vigilant in our oversight and checks and balances,” said Lee.
In order to avoid the mistakes of the past, the county needs to pick up their eyes and look further down the road, according to Lee.
The budget committee has discussed the need for at least a five-year projection of revenue and expenses for the county as part of developing a multi-year budget instead of the current process of only looking at one year at a time.
The advisory board also encouraged the county commissioners to adopt the municipal services tax, a recommendation board members also included in their first report to the commission in November 2013.
“Achieving balance entirely through cuts would eliminate or reduce services to an unacceptable level,” read the board’s November report. The report also recommended judicious application of both expenditure cuts and revenue increases, including the addition of a municipal services tax.
“We think Zions Bank has done a good job on the municipal services study and the commission should pass the municipal service tax,” Lee said.
Commission Chairman Bruce Clegg said the commission is looking seriously at the new tax, but was not ready to commit to its adoption.
“We need to carefully review the Zions Bank study and listen to the public at the hearing before we make up our minds on the municipal services tax,” he said.
Clegg added he had no problem with the other recommendations.
“Now that we are on our feet again, so to speak, financially, it is appropriate for us to start looking further down the road and preparing for the future,” he said.
The budget advisory board was created by the county commission in October 2013 as part of the county’s financial recovery plan. The board has been meeting monthly on the second Thursday at 7 p.m. in the commissioners’ conference room in the county building.
The budget advisory board’s duties include reviewing fiscal policies and procedures, reviewing proposed departmental budgets, and acting as a point of contact for citizen budget and financial concerns.
Along with Lee, who is a senior financial specialist for Fidelity Investments and a former accounting manager for Anderson Lumber Company, the budget advisory board membership includes Larry Shumway, former Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and former Superintendent of Tooele County School District; and Cody Deeter, vice-president of Lewis Young Robertson, and Burningham, a Salt Lake City-based municipal financial advisory and consulting firm.
Additional members include Tooele County Recorder Jerry Houghton; Wayne Anderton, the Utah Public Employees Association chairman for the Tooele County employees chapter; Rod Thompson, Tooele County Roads department director; Dean Johnson, area president and branch manager for Zions Bank; Jake Jacobson, a certified public manager who works for the state of Utah; and David Gibby, environmental manager for U.S. Magnesium.