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State Will Audit Mountainland Association of Governments

State Will Audit Mountainland Association of Governments



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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- The Mountainland Association of Governments will be audited to determine whether $1 million in federal grant money was used appropriately in paying for its administration building.

"I felt there were enough unanswered questions to proceed with an audit," said Darin Underwood, a state audit supervisor in the legislative auditor's office. "I'm not saying the use of the money to purchase the building was inappropriate. There are enough unanswered questions to warrant further review."

This was the third blow to MAG in its dispute with Utah County. The county pulled out of the association in February, citing lack of oversight and desire to pursue MAG contracts.

In March, county commissioners announced their intention to take over services for the elderly.

Utah County Commissioners Steve White and Jerry Grover and Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, requested the audit.

The question is whether MAG properly used Community Development Block Grant funds to construct its administration building in Orem in 1998, Underwood said.

There's also a question about whether there was adequate oversight from the MAG Executive Council in deciding to use the money for the building. Only 8 of the 42 voting members were present when the vote was taken and three were later polled.

That brings up a question as to whether the MAG Executive Council violated the state Open Meetings Act.

MAG Executive Director Darrell Cook said the county clearly has a different understanding than MAG of the federal rules on using the grant funds.

"We'll see if they (the auditors) agree with us or the county," Cook said.

White said federal rules state CDBG funds can't be used for administrative buildings, and MAG didn't get a written waiver to violate those rules.

"To me, it's just a clear misuse," he said.

Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, said the Utah County Attorney's Office has concluded that a "probable violation of federal law seems to have occurred."

The county has already done what it can, he said, and the state needs to get involved because CDBG funds are distributed by the state's Department of Community and Economic Development.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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