Mayor Donna Evans said Friday she plans to call for an external audit to determine what has happened to approximately $2.5 million she says is apparently missing from the city's fleet reserve fund.
Evans, who admits she has become increasingly skeptical of the city's administration since taking office in January, said she plans to ask the City Council to vote for an external audit when it meets May 5."I realize I'm sticking my neck out on this," she said. "But if elected officials don't step up to the plate, who will?
"I'm not willing to say, `Oh, it's just $3 million' . . . and ignore it," the mayor add-ed.
City Manager Dan Dahlgren said late Friday he is surprised by Evans' efforts, because the fleet fund is on the agenda for next Tuesday's City Council and will be discussed at length.
"I'm quite surprised that Donna is thinking there is a major problem there," Dahlgren said. "I certainly don't think there's a major problem. The fleet fund has served us well in the past."
Evans said she became aware of what appears to be a huge discrepancy in the fleet reserve fund earlier this week.
The reserve collects vehicle depreciation funds that are used to replace vehicles and to help pay operations and maintenance costs.
About two weeks ago, the mayor said she asked for and received an accounting of the city's fleet fund from fleet manager Gordon Ryan. At the time, Ryan figured his reserve fund stood at about $2.1 million.
However, Ryan called back recently to advised Evans that he has been told by city staff his fund shows a $400,000 deficit.
"From my understanding, the city's administration has no clear knowledge of what happened to the money in the reserve fund," Evans said. "We need to find out where that is, so I'm going to call for an audit."
Dahlgren acknowledged some differences in the numbers, and said reasons for the variances are "fairly complicated, but will be explained." Ryan calculates his figures on a "cash basis," and the city's finance department keeps its figures with accounting strategies, he said.
"That's the reason for the difference," Dahlgren said. "We will fully discuss it with the council on Tuesday."
Evans said she hopes the council members will support her. "Unfortunately, they haven't supported me on very much."
Ryan, who confirmed the mayor's account of events, said he's carefully gone over his books and is convinced there should be at least $2 million in the fleet reserve as of next June 30 - not a deficit.
The audit issue "is not my call," said Ryan. "But I don't suspect there's anything other than internal movement" of funds.
"I'm not going to speculate what happened, but I don't anticipate anything fraudulent," he added. "I have every faith the city manager and the mayor will unite to find a resolution to this problem."
He said it's important to resolve the issue. "I'm out of business until we can find the resolution to the deficit," the fleet manager said. "I can't recommend purchasing any vehicles until it's resolved - it would be fiduciary negligence on my part."
Ryan said he's asked the city manager to locate the money and also suggested an external audit by a firm other than the one that usually audits West Jordan might be in order.
Evans said Dahlgren has instead turned the job over to Assistant City Manager Penny Atkinson, who is also responsible for much of the budget preparation.
Evans said she decided to make the issue public by asking for an audit because the public needs to know about its finances.
It's also another evidence of the growing schism between the may-or, the city administration and factions of the council.
"I haven't spoken to the city administration about this because in the past, when I have gone to the city manager, he's either called other council members to marshal votes against me or has given me platitudes," Evans said.
The mayor said the recent March 17 council meeting is a good example, when someone prepared a "vote of confidence" resolution in support of the city administration and senior staff. It was approved by a 4-3 vote.
Also part of the package was a resolution reaffirming the city manager form of government and delineating the powers of the executive and administrative branches.
Evans said those resolutions were intended "to put me in my place and keep me from asking questions."
She also said Dahlgren has advised the city's middle managers "not to give me any information and answer any questions. It's already happened to me."
Ryan said he provided the mayor with the information about the deficit because he had previously provided figures that proved to be inaccurate.
"I didn't want her to think I had given her erroneous information. . . . I staked my reputation on what I had told her," he said. "The mayor was entitled to the information she was asking for."