The Lone Peak Public Safety District in Utah is updating its financial policy regarding the purchase and sale of fleet vehicles after an audit by the State of Utah found the Lone Peak Fire Department (LPFD) failed to follow proper transactional procedures.
The audit reported that LPFD didn’t strictly adhere to policies or retain proper documentation for the sale and purchase of vehicles. Adding to the questionability of these transactions is the fact that they occurred between the department and its employees.
In August 2013, LPFD sold a surplus vehicle to an employee, reportedly after advertising it online and accepting bids from both the public and the employee. However, LPFD did not keep documentation of the competing bids as required by both the Lone Peak Public Safety District and the state.
LPFD purchased a vehicle from the fire chief in March 2014, which the fire chief had personally bought at an auction in 2013, the same time the department also bought a vehicle.
Reportedly, LPFD determined that the vehicle it had purchased didn’t meet the department’s needs, and sold it to an outside party for a profit. The department then used part of the profit to buy the fire chief’s vehicle for the original price of $5,280.
The audit found that not only did LPFD not obtain authorization for the purchase, but there was no evidence of comparison shopping or verification that the price paid for the vehicle was competitive.
Additionally, the vehicle LPFD sold was paid for in cash, resulting in only the difference between the vehicles being recorded. Proper cash receipting procedures require that LPFD should have deposited the full cash amount, then paid for the fire chief's vehicle with a check.
State auditors recommended that the district follow proper procedures for the sale and purchase of fleet vehicles and exercise extreme caution with employee transactions. The audit concluded that failure to adhere to best practices will increase the perception that employees of the district may be unfairly benefiting from their positions.