By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
While most municipalities around the country were concerned with how their residents would pay their bills during the Covid-19 shutdowns, Uintah County in Utah was spending its relief funds on a snow tubing hill.
Uintah County received $5.1 million in CARES Act funding for Covid-19 relief, and public records show the county spent at least $322,000 on the Buckskin Hills Ski and Snow Tubing Hill, the local CBS affiliate KUTV reported.
That spending caused several anonymous whistleblowers to report it, which spurred an audit on the 2020 finances by the Utah Office of the State Auditor.
The snow tubing hill was just one of several examples of the commission circumventing the public procurement process in 2020, the audit found.
When the commissioners bought six snow guns for the tubing hill at $19,999 each, they were one dollar below the threshold that would have required soliciting bids, the newspaper reported.
“We didn’t build a tubing hill with the [CARES] money, we expanded the tubing hill,” Commissioner Bart Haslem told The Tribune, saying the expansion was need during the pandemic for “spacing, getting people outside.”
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Of the $5.1 million, almost $3.5 million went to business recovery grants, but officials didn’t verify whether applicants had been impacted by the pandemic, the audit found.
That led to $117,000 going to “companies owned by certain county officials and their immediate family members,” the audit found.
Haslem’s son received $20,000 for his aviation business and Haslem’s wife received $20,000 for her travel business, the Tribune reported. Commissioner Brad Horrocks’ sons also received a total of $77,000 for their RV, farm, energy and hunting outfitter businesses, the Tribune reported.
Thankfully whistleblowers in Uintah County are watching out for taxpayers when officials run amok with their money.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.
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