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State audit finds Uintah County has been misusing funds

The Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured in April.
The Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Monday, April 4, 2021.
Annie Barker, Deseret News

Utah’s Office of the State Auditor released an audit of Uintah County on Wednesday, finding it has problems “spanning the entire spectrum of government accounting.”

The report highlights 13 weaknesses including lack of financial control, lack of recording and tracking procedures, improper spending of COVID-19 relief funds, not reporting conflicts of interest, ineffective management of federal programs and not submitting required federal reports.

The auditors expressed concern that county management would not take responsibility for their financial statements, which restricted the auditors’ ability to support the accuracy of 2020 financial statements from the county.

“The Uintah County leadership’s disagreement with the findings noted above highlights the lack of understanding and lack of responsibility with which they approach execution and oversight of financial reporting, which the auditor finds concerning,” the auditor’s conclusion said.

This audit was done after the Office of the State Auditor received whistleblower tips about the misuse of funds in the county.

State Auditor John Dougall, who directed the audit, said the County Commission and clerk or auditor should immediately improve their procedures and become compliant with state and federal guidelines.

“Every political subdivision of the State of Utah is responsible for appropriately managing and reporting its financial activities. I’m deeply troubled by the severity of financial impairment in Uintah County government, particularly the disregard for regulations required for federal funding. And I’m particularly concerned by the inability or unwillingness of county officials to stand behind the accuracy of the county’s financial statements,” Dougall said.