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All taxpayers ought to be troubled by the results of a recent audit of Salt Lake County’s Fine Arts Division.

First, it is troubling the division’s books are out of whack by more than a million dollars. According to the audit report, a breakdown in accounting led to “an environment wherein there is a blatant lack of understanding of, and disregard for, essential county policies and procedures and sound internal control practices.”

Yes, that’s terribly troubling.

Equally disturbing, though, is the fact it took years for the problem to come to the attention of auditors and other elected officials. It begs a number of questions. How did it happen? Why the lack of oversight? And of course, where else is this kind of thing happening, not just in Salt Lake County but also throughout government at all levels?

In the state’s most populous county, the mayor and other officials, naturally, are pledging to correct the problem. They’d better! The people will hold them to it.

Beyond their stewardship, though, let the disclosures of fiscal mismanagement serve as a wake-up call for bureaucrats everywhere. All public officials have an inherent responsibility to make prudent and wise use of the people’s money . . . and to accurately account for how they do it.

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