(UNEDITED)As a Psychology and Political Science student-intern at Weber State, I volunteered to help a local legislator. This legislator had just been contacted by a County employee who suggested someone look into the County's financial records. I was interested in finding out more about County government, specifically how tax dollars are truly spent, so I asked if I could join him in reviewing these records. When reviewing those records, we found a trip to Maui, Hawaii for a sports conference. Really? What was the purpose of that trip? What did the taxpayers gain from that purchase? Next, I questioned why an employee would use a County credit card to buy liquor at the Utah State Liquor store? What was the purpose of this expenditure and was it legitimate? Additionally, we found thousands and thousands of dollars of gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, and other entertainment sources without any record of how those gift cards were distributed and to whom.
Another questionable expenditure was that of buying latex gloves (probably for the Weber County Health Department). It wasn't the specific item purchased that I questioned, but to spend in excess of $19,000 for the quantity purchased, when it's clear that this same item could have been found cheaper elsewhere just doesn't make sense. Simply putting office supplies out to bid could save the County thousands of dollars. A trip to Maui, latex gloves, gift cards, liquor . . . the list goes on. More alarming than these was the fact that a number of months of credit card records and receipts were missing and unavailable for us to review. Where are the checks and balances in County finances? It's obvious that some expenditures have gone unchecked and unnoticed because of complacency and lack of accountability to tax payers. When complacency creeps in, accountability leaks out. I, like other voters, would like to see a more balanced government this election cycle, so that I can feel comfortable that appropriate questions are being asked and that accountability can be restored.