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State auditor to look into Eagle Mountain's finances

Published: Monday, Aug. 3 2015 11:32 p.m. MDT

This 2007 file photo shows new housing going up in Eagle Mountain. Utah's state auditor plans to review the finances in the city of Eagle Mountain, but both city leaders and their critics say it can't come soon enough. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News archives) This 2007 file photo shows new housing going up in Eagle Mountain. Utah's state auditor plans to review the finances in the city of Eagle Mountain, but both city leaders and their critics say it can't come soon enough. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News archives)

EAGLE MOUNTAIN — Utah's state auditor plans to review the finances in the city of Eagle Mountain, but both city leaders and their critics say it can't come soon enough.

In response to a report written by Sam Allen, a concerned citizen who raised questions about utility billing and city accounting practices in Eagle Mountain, State Auditor John Dougall said he will launch an investigation into the city’s finances.

In a letter sent to Allen, Dougall said his office would investigate allegations regarding the city’s utility and enterprise fund transfers and corresponding rates, the city’s entertainment and travel expenses, and the alleged missing $7 million in sewer bonds.

Eagle Mountain city administrator Ifo Pili said the city was expecting Dougall to come and said the city wrote him a letter asking for an investigation. Pili said he believes the accusations are politically motivated.

“This seems to creep up around election season,” he said, “and it’s probably going to continue and maybe get even worse until the election.”

Two council members and Eagle Mountain Mayor Heather Jackson are up for election in November.

“We just want it (allegations) to stop, and we’re hoping that a confirmation from the state auditor would make it stop. I don’t know if it would, but I think it would sure help.”

Allen is happy to hear an investigation will take place, though Dougall told him the investigation could take time.

“We aren’t going to be patient forever,” Allen said. “Obviously, we would like this sorted out as soon as possible.”

Eagle Mountain supplies both gas and electricity, as well as water, sewer and sanitation. It has a higher base rate than many other cities put in place to pay off $50 million in bonds that were issued when the young city incorporated.

Not all of the money goes directly toward utilities. Royce Van Tassel, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, has said the practice has long been a part of state code and is quite common across all of the Utah cities.

Contributing:  Viviane Vo-Duc

E-mail: psamore@ksl.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company