A man who helped start a legal assistance fund for Mayor Guy Cash says City Council members have not been as unaware of land transactions as they have said.
Though council members told the Deseret News last week they were unaware of the 1990 sale of two city-owned lots in the Cedar Hollow subdivision, the council approved declaring the property as surplus, implying their approval of such transactions, said Russ Schneider, a Lehi resident who helped establish the Mayoral Assistance Fund to help Cash obtain legal representation.Cash faces one charge of receiving unlawful compensation as an elected official, a third-degree felony, because of his alleged involvement in the sale of lot No. 7 in the Cedar Hollow subdivision as both mayor and real estate agent and receiving a commission on the sale.
Additionally, Cash signed off as mayor on the sale of lot No. 4 in June 1990, and records on file at the county recorder's office indicate that both City Attorney Ken Rushton and City Recorder Gary Lewis did as well.
According to minutes from the May 8, 1990, City Council meeting, officials attempted to reach an agreement with Gary A. Cooper regarding money his Cedar Hollow Corp. owed the city because of special improvements it made on his property.
That agreement would have had Cooper deeding over his land to the city, which would pay a total of approximately $9,500 owed in property taxes to the county, Rushton said. Cooper would then be able to sell the properties during a period of up to four years and would repay the city for both the taxes and payments for improvements it made on the land in 1979, which were between $8,000 and $9,000 on each lot.
Though that agreement went unsigned, Schneider said council members should have understood that those discussions meant the city was declaring the lots as surplus property, a procedure that City Council members told the Deseret News the city usually follows before selling its property.
"That agreement expressly said that the city was authorized to put the properties up for sale, and they were," Schneider said. "I can't see how the council wouldn't understand that."
According to Rushton, accrued interest on the special improvement loans the city made to the Cedar Hollow Corp. reached the $8,000 mark in 1989. At that time, the city assumed possession of the lots, in accordance with state statutes dealing with special improvement districts.
Those statutes allow cities to take possession of said properties and either sell them and obtain equivalent values for the debt incurred or resell them to the original property owners, Rushton said.