Salt Palace box office employees have been asked to take voluntary lie detector tests to help determine whether money was stolen during 10 days in September when employees did not properly account for cash receipts.
The polygraph exams are among 15 corrective actions taken or recommended by Salt Palace management following disclosure this week that bookkeeping safeguards set last year after a box office embezzlement scandal were not followed between Sept. 16 and 26.The corrective actions are outlined in a letter from Salt Palace manager Sam Driggs to county commissioners. Driggs' letter, which will appear on the commission meeting agenda Monday, is a response to findings of the county auditor's office, which disclosed the box office problems Wednesday.
Among the corrective actions outlined:
-Hiring, after months setting up the position and recruiting, of a full-time accountant for the box office.
-Recruiting of additional box office supervisory employees.
-Revising forms to provide more thorough documentation of cash received.
-Auditing, each quarter, the box office.
-Reviewing the legality of tighter background checks and polygraph exams at any time for employees as a condition of employment.
Driggs' letter stresses that no money is missing from the box office. It disputes statements by county auditor Craig Sorensen that the same bookkeeping inadequacies leading to last year's box office scandal are still happening.
Sorensen, in a letter to commissioners last week, said internal bookkeeping controls were not followed, cash was retained in the box office safe rather than deposited in the bank daily and management was not providing operations oversite. At one time $250,000 accumulated in the safe.
The auditor's letter said the findings of his office "indicate a serious disregard for generally accepted accounting procedures, countywide policies and specifically written Salt Palace procedures."
Driggs agreed that because of heavy demand for tickets sales during Sept. 16-26, cash turned in by cashiers had not been counted by supervisors and required deposits not made. He pointed out one box office supervisor has been disciplined - given three days unpaid leave and 60 days probationary review - and strongly disagreed with other statements by Sorensen.
"The facts will show funds are protected and accounted for, (and) that there is very strong management oversite, although there was non-adherence . . . to the established written box office polices and procedures for a very short period," Driggs' letter says.
He also disputes Sorensen's assertion that box office records are so poorly kept the auditor's office could not determine if cash is missing.
"It is not impossible to identify from the existing records the total sales and total deposits for any given period of time and compare the two figures to identify any variance," the letter says.
For August, September and October the box office sold more than $1.1 million in tickets and had a cash shortage of less than $1,900, or less than two-tenths of 1 percent, according to the letter. That variance "is well within acceptable levels," Driggs said.
He said Sorensen's handling of his findings caused "doubt in the minds of the public," and could hurt the Salt Palace's ability to book events.
"There is no comparison of the current problems and . . . the former problems by former management," Driggs' letter concludes.
Driggs was hired to replace former Salt Palace manager Douglas Knudsen, who was sentenced to 30 days in jail last year for returning stolen hockey tickets to the box office for cash refunds.