Salt Lake City may rule soon on whether documentation provided by Better Utah Inc. proves the sports-promotion organization legitimately spent $20,000 in city money questioned in a recent audit.
Meanwhile, the city attorney's office is reviewing the audit but said criminal charges are not being pondered in connection with the controversy, which surfaced Monday when Mayor Palmer DePaulis released the audit."There is nothing at this juncture but information gathering so that we can do a full analysis," said Assistant City Attorney Steve Allred.
In an audit by grant monitor Galen Rasmussen, the city questioned $20,160 in expenditures, some of which Better Utah billed to both the state and Salt Lake City. One bill was for two U.S. fencing-match tickets that were actually complimentary.
DePaulis told reporters Monday that Better Utah must provide documentation proving the money was spent to promote amateur athletics or pay back the city. Better Utah head David Johnson provided Rasmussen receipts on Tuesday.
Johnson said the documentation would vindicate him of any suspicion, but Rasmussen would not comment on the documentation, saying only that Johnson submitted invoices and check copies "for the amount of the questioned cost."
Johnson admitted his bookkeeping practices were "not perfect" but maintained the money went to promote amateur athletics. Rasmussen characterized Johnson's accounting practices as "not what we would normally expect."
The city, which gave Better Utah $60,000 since 1986 and authorized $30,000 more this year, has suspended payments to Better Utah. The state has also suspended payment to the company's affiliate, the Utah Sports Foundation, until it completes an audit on the foundation.
Johnson has been under scrutiny in the past for having once worked for the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which awarded a contract to the Sports Foundation in April. The contract gave the foundation $570,000 over three years and gave Johnson the directorship.
Nineteen businesses were contacted when the bid for the contract was let, said David Grant, assistant director of the department, but only the Sports Foundation bid for the contract.
Johnson left the state agency in April and joined Utah Sports Foundation at a higher salary. "I make more money, but it's not substantial," he said. Johnson's salary and benefits while he worked for the state totaled $55,991, state records said.
The city audit shows that in May 1987 Johnson was paid air fare for travel under the Better Utah's auspices. At that time, Johnson was still employed by the state Department of Community and Economic Development but he said he was a "volunteer" for the organization.