Timpanogos Community Mental Health Center employees are angry and dismayed that the center's administrators could misuse millions of dollars at the expense of patients and employees, many of whom haven't received raises for four years.

"I'm mad as hell," said Dave Smith, a Timp employee for 14 years. "I want the public to know we're not thieves. We work for our money just like they do."Smith made the remarks during a meeting Thursday in the center that drew nearly 100

full- and part-time employees. They gathered to discuss the center's future with County Commissioner Gary Anderson, interim center director Keith Tintle and Don Muller of the Utah Division of Mental Health.

Commission Chairman Malcolm Beck, who also attended the meeting, said the tri-county Timp Mental Health board of directors plans to fire several suspended Timp administrators if they don't resign. The action follows the release of a legislative audit this week that shows at least eight center administrators paid themselves more than $3.5 million above their base salaries the past four years.

"I don't see how any (administrators) can survive as a result of this audit," Muller said.

The audit shows that the biggest recipient of "questionable internal contracting practices" was youth program director Carl Smith. Smith, who resigned this week along with center director Glen Brown and administrative services director Craig Stevens, received more than $700,000 above his base salary in 1987.

"He didn't deserve it," said Dave Smith. "No man deserves that" salary.

Muller announced that interim administrators would begin directing the center next week and that Tintle would return to his administrative duties at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

Acting as interim director will be David Dangerfield, the executive director of the Salt Lake Valley Mental Health Center. He will be assisted by Robert Warburton, Salt Lake Valley Mental Health Center clinical director; Dan England of the Utah Division of Mental Health; and Richard Linnell, fiscal officer of Weber County Mental Health Authority, who will help administer Title 19 funds.

"I'm glad this program had a sense of depth that was far beyond a few administrators," Tintle told employees. "I think we're going to be able to overcome this hurdle."

Anderson thanked employees for their dedication and pledged that changes are being made to strengthen the center and its programs. "I'm optimistic because we have some good people to work with," he said.

Employees greeted with applause Anderson's suggestion that the center do away with all contracting out of work in order to help eliminate future abuses. He reminded employees that Timp has some of the most cost-efficient programs in the state despite misuse of money.

"Think what we'll be in the future," he said. "That's the good news."