Consultant Fees Create Controversy in Tooele

Consultant Fees Create Controversy in Tooele

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John Hollenhorst reportingTooele City is under fire for paying a consultant what some consider an outrageous amount of money.

First, we should be clear: No one is claiming Randy Sant did anything illegal or dishonest.

But he's had an arrangement with Tooele City that some say is a very sweet deal, but which the city says makes sense, considering their high rate of growth in recent years.

Depending on who you ask, Randy Sant is either one of the best things to happen to Tooele, or he's the luckiest man in town.

Tooele has paid Sant big money to oversee economic development and to obtain and manage federal and state grants.

Charlie Roberts/Mayor of Tooele: "We feel our citizens have got a good deal."

Drew Hall/Tooele Developer: "Well it strikes me wrong that they're paying somebody $366,000 a year while they're laying off policemen."

Tooele developer Drew Hall dug out the city records.

Drew Hall/Tooele Developer: "It appears they've paid him $1.2 million in a four year period."

*PAYMENTS to RS Consultants

$250,215 2000 $366,372 2001 $363,091 2002 $219,113 2003

City records indicate his firm took in a quarter million in 2000, a third of a million the next two years, a fifth of a million last year.

Sant says his own records show slightly less. But his contract would have allowed him to charge the city even more... up to a 10 percent commission on the grants he brings in.

Randy Sant/RS Consultants: "I think they're getting a good deal for that work."

Sant says his 25 years experience helped bring in a $2 million federal grant to build a road.

A city water tank now buried in snow. Wheelchair ramps at a musuem. Sewers for mobile homes. Some of the fruits of 12 million in grants. A big return on investment, Sant believes.

Randy Sant: "Absolutely, I do. I have no qualm."

Charlie Roberts/Mayor of Tooele: "It's been our opinion, bottom line, what you get are multi-million dollar grant monies to do major projects that we wouldn't be able to get otherwise."

Sant says the money goes to his firm, not him. But he is the only full-time employee. Still, he claims he spends a lot on expenses.

Randy Sant: "We hire a lot of outside help. Sometimes we have to hire people to help us do the environmental work. We sometimes have to hire accountants to help us with the financial management."

He claims that cuts his profit sharply. But he refused to show us his records. And he admits the city rarely examines his grant-related spending.

Charlier Roberts/Mayor of Tooele: "Each of the invoices over $8,000 are approved by the council."

But a veteran city council member told us she can't remember ever scrutinizing details of Sant's invoices.

Drew Hall/Tooele Developer: "Spending has been out of control for a number of years."

Randy Sant: "I think a community like Tooele, to be able to tell it's public that it has recieved over 12 million dollars in federal and state funds for a city of 26,000 is a pretty impressive thing, in my opinion."

Officials in several larger cities expressed surprise at Tooele's approach.

In most cities, similar grant work is done by full-time employees. A typical salary is $40,000 to $70,000 a year.

Drew Hall/Tooele Developer: "They could have gotten a very qualified person that could have obtained the same level of grant money and saved the city $800,000 in the process."

Sant says that's not true because of the money he has to spend on grant related expenses. But, again, he refused to document that for us.

Meanwhile, his contracts with the city recently expired and the entire arrangement is up for review.

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