County auditor takes control of Davis sheriff's finance functions

Thursday , January 04, 2018 - 5:15 AM1 comment

MARK SHENEFELT, Standard-Examiner Staff

FARMINGTON — Davis County officials are transferring three finance positions out of the sheriff’s office, a follow-up step threatened by commissioners after a series of audits spotlighted questionable spending practices.

Commissioners ordered the $195,000 switch when they approved the 2018 county budget in mid-December, County Clerk-Auditor Curtis Koch said Wednesday. The three employees will report to Koch’s office and are being moved there from the sheriff’s complex.

RELATED: Audits of Davis County Sheriff Office reveal time card fraud, $862 hotel stay

In a caustic letter to Sheriff Todd Richardson in March 2017, commissioners said the lawman displayed “a serious lack of good judgment” in an instance of alleged time-card fraud and chastised him for repeatedly flouting established county financial practices.

The letter threatened reassignment of sheriff’s finance employees unless practices improved.

Commissioner Jim Smith said Wednesday that the commission decided in December it needed better control because of “ongoing challenges with the sheriff’s office complying with county policies and procedures regarding purchasing and other capital acquisitions.”

Asked for examples, Smith listed “ongoing miscommunication on how to purchase vehicles.”

“Our goal is to have more direct impact on the way purchases are processed from the sheriff’s office,” Smith said. “It’s important the sheriff’s office complies with the same practices followed by every other department.”

Efforts to contact Richardson were not immediately successful.

“He's been a standup guy and we are discussing ways to implement this move without negatively impacting the sheriff’s operations,” Smith said.

Koch said the moves allow the county to centralize financial operations. That will improve efficiency, transparency and checks and balances, he said.

Five internal audits last year rapped the sheriff’s office for allegedly fraudulent time reporting by a deputy, with Richardson's approval; an $862 hotel stay for a deputy after an officer-involved shooting; questionable expenses paid to deputies for travel to attend events honoring fallen officers; and shoddy accounting of cash intended for inmates.

Richardson also clashed with commissioners and Koch last fall after the sheriff asked for a $15 million budget increase.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801 625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SEmarkshenefelt. 

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