The Timpanogos Mental Health scandal is sending shock waves through state government this election year, and now legislative leaders want to know how the state is supervising employees who do outside, private work.
House Majority Leader Nolan Karras, R-Roy, has gotten the Legislative Management Committee to approve such a review. He wants to find any abuse and stop it.The search may well have impacts on a number of state workers who hold second jobs - some of which are directly tied to experience gained in their state jobs.
For example, Utah State Tax Commission rules allow any commission employee, including the commissioners themselves, to prepare tax returns on their own hours.
Commission spokesman Lee Shaw said, "The employee has to file a conflict of interest statement listing all the names of the persons and companies he prepares returns for." Then, theoretically, the employee will not be allowed to review those returns as part of his state job.
The commission also has a property assessment branch. The state appraisers set taxing value on certain multicounty properties, like mines, railroads and utilities.
Those appraisers are allowed to do private property appraisals for mortgage companies or banks as a second job. Like tax return preparers, the state appraisers are never supposed to review private property appraisals they may have dealt with as part of any assessment appeal to the Tax Commission.
"At no time can state time or resources be used in this outside work," Shaw said. He added that commissioners and their executive director, Clyde Nichols, are reviewing the outside work guidelines.
"There will be a stricter policy on second jobs in about a month or so," Shaw promised.
Karras said the Timpanogos Mental Health scandal started because some administrators were looking for a way to supplement their salaries - and they found a way to give themselves a second job. Audits revealed that several administrators wrote themselves private consulting contracts and gave themselves multiple car allowances and credit cards that inflated their salaries. One administrator was paid a $70,000-a-year salary but really made $700,000 when all the contracts were added in. In all, more than $3 million has been misused, auditors estimate.
Karras said outside work can be abused and should be monitored. In a letter to the management committee, he said he has been told that a local school administrator, who he declined to name, works half a day at his school job and then goes to a Utah National Guard job for half a day, collecting full day's pay for both jobs.
Felix McGowan, assistant director for state human resources, said that for state workers there are clear guidelines for second jobs. Before a worker can take a second job he must check with his administrator. If the administrator believes there could be a conflict of interest, the second job must be modified or given up to eliminate such a conflict.