In an effort to correct some misconceptions that were raised in a letter to the editor last week concerning a “non-essential” county department, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify a few things.
First of all, the duties of the county auditor’s office are to “account” for the expenditures of all the offices. It must be an “essential” department if state statute mandates that each county has an elected county auditor. The auditor’s office does not control the budget, nor have the final say in the appropriation of expenditures. This is the responsibility of the county commissioners. I would like the citizens of Tooele County to know where their money has been spent over the years.
Over the last six to seven years, the county has made the following expenditures: $1.1 million to pave Silver Avenue in Stockton from the Hogan property to the Mormon Trail to help with the development of South Rim Estates; $1.2 million to Utah State University for the addition to a building; $6.4 million to expand the Health Department Building; $2.9 million to purchase property in trade for Deseret Peak Complex; $642,000 to repair Clubhouse Drive in Stansbury Park; $2.7 million to help build the County Emergency Operations Center; and $1.3 million for renovations at the County Courthouse/Administration Building. Overall, this is approximately $16.3 million during this time frame in addition to the routine operation expenses. In addition, there has been a yearly cash subsidy of approximately $1.5 million to help fund Deseret Peak Complex.
Yes, as was stated, the county commissioners have also bonded for other projects that have added to the expenditures of the county. The projects bonded for include not only the Deseret Peak Convention Center, but also includes debt service payments for the county’s portion of the new courts building and the new county jail. These financial decisions were made by the county commissioners.
All in all, the millions of dollars in rainy day funds have not been” lost,” but have been expended by the commission in a way, that at the time and in a manner, they saw fit. The tracking of those funds has been handled in a manner that can be tracked in accordance with state statute as the office has “accepted modern change.”
Michael Jensen is the Tooele County Auditor