Two former Timpanogos Community Mental Health Center employees may be back on the job if a Utah County Career Service Council ruling withstands a possible appeal by the center's authority board.
Presently, however, the Timp authority board is divided over whether the two employees, Jim Schwartz and Allen Fife, should be reinstated. The board will meet Dec. 27 to decide whether to file the appeal in 4th District Court."Right now I think the board is quite divided over what would be a fair decision," said Timp Director Don Muller. "If the ruling were made for them to come back, we would try and make that situation work in the interest of them as employees and the center."
The Career Service Council ruled Dec. 8 that the two should be reinstated because "the center failed to adhere to the state provision of personnel management rules and disciplinary action was not applied in a consistent manner for all merit employees of the center who also received contract pay."
The council also had concerns over the authority board's notification to suspend Schwartz and Fife, saying that they were not given an opportunity to respond before the suspensions took effect.
Both men were suspended from working at Timp Mental Health in April after a legislative audit report alleged that top administrators had misused $3.5 million in public money.
The council report says that only the top three administrators - former center Director Glen R. Brown; Carl V. Smith, former director of specialty programs; and Craig W. Stephens, former director of administrative services - controlled the financial and budgetary records of the center.
Brown, Smith, Stephens and former accounting technician Deanna Westwood were indicted in October on 117 felony counts in the case.
Utah County Commissioner Malcolm Beck said he believes the Career Service Council did not make a very good decision. "I think we ought to appeal it. We haven't made a final decision, but we told our attorney to prepare an appeal."
The authority board is made up of commissioners from Utah, Wasatch and Summit counties.
"Civil suits are still filed for reimbursement against them," Beck said. "We should not bring them back without some type of restitution. It's hard to bring them back when a lawsuit is filed against them."
Utah County Commissioner Brent Morris agreed. "I think the action the Career Service Council took is inappropriate in light of the money they (Fife and Schwartz) received and the allowances given to them as employees. The money they received in excess is an offense to the public."
But Utah County Commissioner Gary Anderson said, "I think there is a good argument that they were not involved in the alleged misuse of public funds."
He said if they are hired back, they will not be on board at a supervisory level but at staff levels.
If Fife and Schwartz are reinstated under the council's decision, they would come back at salaries "commensurate with their abilities, experience and longevity," the council report states.
Back pay for their salaries and contracts from April 29 to July 15, which includes the time they were suspended without pay until the time when their contracts were suspended, will be returned to them.
Fife and Schwartz appealed to the Career Service Council in August, saying they were fired only because they were listed in the legislative audit that named the center's most highly compensated employees.
The legislative audit said Fife had a base salary of $41,572 in 1987, with a $5,122 car allowance and $52,732 in contract earnings. Schwartz had a $33,966 base salary with $50,631 in contracts.