‘Inappropriate’ Utah Jazz ticket purchase for Plymouth officials has ‘tax consequences’ for town’s few residents

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) The largest biodiesel producer in Utah, Washakie Renewable Energy, held an open house in Plymouth on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, to showcase its new production facility.

Nearly everyone in the state loves the Utah Jazz, but the state auditor’s office says the $684 for two tickets — plus $47.51 for a game trip meal — are examples of “inappropriate expenditures” for town personnel in Plymouth, Box Elder County.

It says buying them at town expense may have “tax consequences.” After all, the $732 spent comes out to nearly $2 each for the 377 residents who the U.S. Census Bureau estimates live there.

The auditor’s office on Wednesday released a special review of Plymouth’s finances after it said some town officials contacted it “with concerns related to possible inadequate oversight of public funds.”

Among problems found were those Jazz tickets, which the audit said “were given to certain town personnel as an annual bonus.”

However, the auditor said the town lacked “adequate policies and procedures” about bonuses and use of the debit card that purchased them. It called for establishing such procedures now, and resolution of “any tax consequences resulting from the awarding of annual bonuses.”

Auditors also found 11 transactions totaling $14,183 that did not have adequate documentation showing the “amount, date, place and essential character of the expenditure.” It said three of those transactions were to buy meals — but records fail to show who was served and any business purpose for them.

It also found six checks totaling $5,077 that had just one signature, instead of the two required by the town.

The auditor found what it called other internal control weaknesses, including that the town treasurer opens the mail and collects water payments from the town’s drop box with no other person present — increasing the risk that money could be misappropriated without detection.

The audit also said the town failed to perform independent reviews of its credit-card transactions, lacked adequate controls to ensure the proper use of its fuel cards, and did not have proper oversight of a petty cash fund for the fire department.

Plymouth Mayor Curtis Murray signed a letter included with the audit saying the city agrees with its findings and is implementing suggested changes.