A legislative audit on alcohol enforcement programs in cities throughout the state indicates that Provo and Salt Lake City are not in compliance with state liquor fund use, the state legislative auditor's office reported Wednesday.
State auditors examined accounting records and alcohol-related arrest records in Salt Lake City, Provo, Cedar City, South Ogden, Ogden and Orem to see if state funds had boosted law enforcement efforts on alcohol-related crimes. All cities were in compliance except for Salt Lake City and Provo.Wayne Welsh, legislative auditor general, said Provo has received $96,000 every year since 1984 for the program but was in compliance only the first two years, when the city had two officers dedicated full time to alcohol enforcement.
"We felt they were in compliance because of the extra manpower, but two years later they reduced the number of officers and transferred the two into other duties," he said. "As a result, the arrest percentage went down. We felt like their efforts diminished and they were not in compliance for the last two years."
Mayor Joe Jenkins said the two officers were given other assignments because of budget constraints and because "we didn't feel there was enough alcohol enforcement for two full-time officers."
The audit report said Salt Lake City has not been in compliance for five years.
The alcohol enforcement program provides cities with state funds to increase law enforcement efforts in alcohol-related crimes. The funds came from a 1983 bill that increased taxes on beer and alcoholic beverages earmarked for alcohol enforcement.
"We are giving the Legislature a couple of options," Welsh said. "We are not asking them to penalize the cities for what happened in the past but to look at penalties in the future. We will also recommend that they be required to pay back funds, but we haven't recommended any specific numbers."
Jenkins said the city was justified in its expenditures because "all they looked at were the DUI (driving under the influence) alcohol-related arrests. The undercover work was never reported, and it is related. All officers are doing a certain amount of alcohol enforcement work."
But Welsh said they did consider the undercover agent work and didn't see that it had changed the enforcement activities.
"Even with the others picking up the work, their arrest statistics went down. There is a possibility that the arrests have gone down, but it coincided directly when they took both officers off. I don't know any other factor that would have caused that."
The amount of state funds awarded to a city is based on the population and number of bars in the community and the percentage of alcohol-related arrests.
In 1983, Provo City funded its alcohol enforcement efforts through a federal grant, but in 1984 and 1985 the city went with the state grant because it was a greater amount.