Results of Kaysville audit not included in Proposition 5 voter pamphlet

Oct 15 2013 - 4:27pm

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KAYSVILLE -- The Proposition No. 5 voter information pamphlet now available online contains a war of words between those for and against the change in law.

But what the four-page pamphlet, because of its print date, doesn't include in either of the arguments, is any reference to the state audit of Kaysville city's financial records, and how one of the city's bookkeeping weaknesses is related to the proposition.

Proposition No. 5, if voter-approved, will restrict city leaders from using power fund revenues from the city-owned power department for anything other than to maintain and operate that department.

The proposition is to appear on the Nov. 5 municipal election ballot.

Residents favoring the proposition say the audit performed on the city by the Office of State Auditors, and revealed Sept. 25, gives them momentum going into the vote where it vindicates their concerns.

"(The state audit) has a huge impact. The city will say not, but it does," said Art Morley, spokesman for the residents' group responsible for collecting the signatures needed to place the proposition on the ballot.

"We recommend that fees charged by the (city) electrical enterprise fund be used only for that purpose, unless rate payers are properly notified prior to the commence of any unrelated activity," said the state audit findings and recommendation report signed by Utah State Auditor John Dougall.

"We believe the (state) auditor supported what we were saying," Morley said. He said the first item mentioned in the state audit is the city's use of electrical funds to pay for other things outside of the power department.

However, because voter information pamphlet statements had to be submitted to the city by Sept. 16, the state audit recommendations to the city were not included in the pamphlet as a reason to vote for the proposition, Morley said.

One city leader maintains no momentum has changed as a result of the findings in the state audit, while another city official refers to the audit as a "dead issue."

Kaysville Councilman Jared R. Taylor said he reviewed the state audit, and there are some areas that Kaysville Mayor Steve Hiatt has previously mentioned that could be improved on.

But the issue surrounding the proposition is a complex one, Taylor said, and based on that, the audit has not changed momentum in either direction.

"It just gives us some areas to improve on, and we are improving," he said.

The same audit also points out the city has many successes in its financial reporting, Taylor said.

"Nowhere did the state say we were in violation of state law. There were never any fines or citations issued. The city is operating within the bounds of state law, and they were just recommendations."

Kaysville City Manager John Thacker said the state auditor's report has been addressed, and it is a "dead issue."

"Proposition 5 is a totally separate issue," Thacker told the Standard-Examiner on Monday from his home.

City offices were closed Monday for the Columbus Day holiday.

Regarding the state audit, city officials responded to it by agreeing rate payers to the power department need to be notified of any disbursement of those power funds. But city leaders defended the use of power revenues to buy land for future development.

"The economic benefit associated with the property transactions has allowed the city to balance costs and benefits and manage the city well," the city said in its audit response.

In the "against" information in the pamphlet, officials say the proposition will tie the hands of officials operating the city and will increase the use of debt in managing the city, "preventing the city from saving to purchase equipment and facilities, resulting in higher cost for current and future power operations and projects," reads a statement listing as authors Scott Crapo, Jake W. Garn, Carol R. Page, Christopher Snell and Stephen Whitesides.

Those for the proposition say its approval will reduce the cost of residents' monthly power bill where power revenues would stay within the department, and will stop the practice of hidden taxation through power rate increases.

"In the last 33 years, Kaysville City has spent over $25 million of our electricity bills on items that have nothing to do with the power company," reads a statement in the pamphlet, authored by Brian Tarbet, Dr. R. Neil Van Leeuwen, Dr. Travis Hendry, H. Lynn Galbraith, a former city councilman, and Morley.

The Proposition No. 5 voter information pamphlet is available at www.kaysvillecity.com.

Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or bsaxton@standard.net, or follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.

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