WEST JORDAN -- Members of an ad hoc West Jordan coalition seeking a sweeping state investigation of city financial and management practices have been told the probe probably won't be as broad as they had hoped.
Norm Riggs, one of the coalition founders, said officials from the Utah Attorney General's Office advised him Monday the state will have to limit the scope of any investigation out of necessity."As far as a complete audit of everything in the city, it would take a couple of years and a couple of million dollars, and they don't have the financial and personnel resources to do that," he said.
"But we're confident they will narrow down the list of items we gave them and investigate certain issues," Riggs added.
Palmer DePaulis, a spokesman for Utah Attorney General Jan Graham, concedes the scope of problems alleged by the Citizens for Integrity in Government committee presents a daunting task that will take some time for the attorney general to investigate.
"The investigation is still ongoing, and there is information that continues to come to us," DePaulis said Tuesday.
"What we've been trying to do is distill out the things that are appropriate to the investigation and work on those issues," he said. "It's going to take us awhile to work through this."
DePaulis said he cannot comment on the specifics of the investigation but indicated the attorney general's staff will rely on help from the state auditor's office to check out some of the allegations.
CIG contacted the attorney general's office in October on the advice of the the Utah Legislature's audit subcommittee.
The group had collected the signatures of more than 700 West Jordan residents who joined the committee in asking for a comprehensive legislative audit of city affairs.
But legislative leaders said at the time that questions of impropriety and possible violations of state law raised by CIG would be more appropriately handled by the attorney general's staff.
The committee is asking the state to determine whether West Jordan has broken state law by failing to follow competitive bidding procedures on most of the work done at the city's new youth soccer complex.
It has also questioned whether the use of city manpower and resources at the South Valley Sanctuary, a shelter for domestic violence victims, was properly authorized by the council.
Riggs said CIG members, who met last month with a state attorney, are now in the process of providing additional documents and the names of individuals who may have useful information.
"It's hard to say what they (state attorneys) will finally decide to investigate," he said. "They seem particularly interested in the lack of bidding on the soccer field, and there is some interest in problems with building inspections and performance bond issues.
"But we want them to get in and investigate before city management gets in and cleans up the files, which I understand has been happening," Riggs added.
West Jordan officials have not publicly discussed the committee's request for a state probe.
However, the council has recently gone behind closed doors to authorize four separate internal investigations of its own.
Subjects of those probes include assistant city manager Penny Atkinson, fleet manager Gordon Ryan, a police department official and Councilman David Plouzek.
A fifth probe, involving three employees of West Jordan's development services department who allegedly moonlighted on the soccer complex, has been turned over to Salt Lake County prosecutors to evaluate whether criminal charges should be filed.
The matter is still pending, but two of those employees resigned and one was terminated.
Meanwhile, Plouzek has made information about the investigation involving him public and has had the matter placed on the council agenda Tuesday night for open discussion.