We want our money back!

That's what the Salt Lake Valley Health Department is saying after County Mayor Nancy Workman allegedly diverted health department monies to fund two accounting employees at the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Valley.

The health department's fiscal committee met last week and voted to formally request that the $17,200 in salary paid to the employees be returned to its source.

"We're not like, 'Doggone it, we've been ripped off, and we're not going to take it,' " board member and County Councilman David Wilde said. "We just wanted to at least send a letter and request that the money be sent back."

It's not so much the amount as the principle of the thing — $17,200, while in absolute terms a healthy chunk of change, isn't that much compared to the health department's $27 million annual budget. Health department officials say they need to show donors, foundations and grant distributors that they're responsible stewards of their money.

In fact, whether or not the request is actually honored is almost beside the point.

Wilde said he can foresee a situation where a potential donor's accountant is going through the books and says, "What's this discrepancy? Have you taken appropriate action to recover these funds?"

"The point is that (board members) have a fiduciary role, and I think they want to be responsible," health department director Patti Pavey said.

"The mayor said she didn't cross her t's and dot her i's on this," Wilde said. "Well, we're crossing our t's and dotting our i's."

While the request could have been sent out without board approval, fiscal committee members decided to take it to the board just so every member was aware and OK with it, although "I can't imagine anybody voting against it," Wilde said.

One interesting question that still remains is where to send the request.

The Boys and Girls Clubs? They never even saw the money — it went straight to the employees, and the clubs are always strapped for cash anyway. The County Council, as the final architect of the budget? The mayor's office, where the whole thing began?

"I'm assuming it goes to the mayor's office or maybe the council," Wilde said. "I guess I'm not sure."

Workman is facing felony charges in connection with the matter.


E-mail: aedwards@desnews.com