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AUDITOR OKS RELEASE OF FUNDS FOR UINTAH GOVERNMENT GROUP

SHARE AUDITOR OKS RELEASE OF FUNDS FOR UINTAH GOVERNMENT GROUP

State funds for the Uintah Basin Association of Governments - once in danger of being cut off due to the AOG's precarious financial situation - have been approved for release by the state auditor's office.

In fact, Auditor Eckhardt Bauer agreed to spend a day at UBAG's Roosevelt office to offer advice as the tri-county agency continues efforts to reconcile financial statements and documents in preparation for an audit next month of the 1993 fiscal year records.Preliminary audit work was hampered by missing checks, incorrect payroll files and the absence of bank reconciliations from July 1993 to June 1994.

UBAG is responsible for overseeing the local expenditure of approximately $2 million annually in state and federal funds for housing, employment, economic development and loan programs.

The organization, plagued by loosely supervised administrative decisions and spending in the past, is now in the process of rebuilding with new employees and administrators, along with a renewed commitment from its governing board of directors.

Last month, newly hired finance director Lyle Lemon reported the organization had spent $168,000 more than it had been reimbursed in the past fiscal year. Missing or lost documents and financial records have made it difficult to determine where the funds went, he said.

During the November UBAG board meeting, Lemon said progress is being made to clean up financial discrepancies.

"The state said they would be willing to assist in the reconciliation process. There are still over $100,000 in accounts payable. Over the past two months $232,000 worth of receipts have come in, some on old bills and some on current activity.

"We were able to pin down some taxes we owe and weatherization projects. We are making progress. There is still a concern, but each department is working hard to bring in receipts on accounts owed."

UBAG Director Greg Richens, hired last May, requested a visit by the state auditor based on the organization's financial situation. "I felt it important to get him in before the audit is complete. We will try to solicit advice and see that we're doing things properly. It's in our best interest to lay things out on the table.

"The key is we have to reconstruct 14 months of work and at the same time keep things running currently. We're hoping to begin the preliminary audit work this week. Our goal is to complete the 1993 audit by the Dec. 31 deadline set by the state."

The audit will be conducted by the certified accounting firm of Rodney Aycock.

When it comes to how to reconcile numbers in the event documentation can't be found, doesn't exist or has been improperly coded, Richens said, the state will determine "what steps to take."

In the meantime, to keep the organization financially afloat, Richens said UBAG has asked Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties to contribute a total of $31,000 in "working capital."

According to Richens, internal controls now in place will provide for a system of checks and balances to ensure that such a disastrous administrative avalanche of problems does not recur.