Salt Lake County recorder has little oversight in his own office, audit reveals

Posted at 8:46 PM, Sep 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-27 23:41:58-04

SALT LAKE CITY - If you have bought or sold a house in Salt Lake County, the recorder’s office has handled part of the paperwork. It is where real estate sales and other legal transactions officially become part of the public record.

“The recorder’s office is essential for basically property ownership,” said Salt Lake County Auditor Scott Tingley.

Over the last few months a methodical performance audit, ordered by the Salt Lake County Council, has been investigating the recorder's office and County Recorder Gary Ott.

"We found that Mr. Ott, the county recorder, doesn't materially participate in the day-to-day management functions of the office," Tingley said.

The full version of the audit has yet to be released, in part, because Ott failed to show up to a council business meeting on Tuesday.

“As county council members we cannot remove anyone from office. We can’t be the ones to dictate whether someone steps down,” said Salt Lake County councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton.

Between salary and benefits, Ott pulls in roughly $180,000 a year.

“All we can do is focus on how that office is running,” Newton said.

What has been released from the audit revealed mixed results for how the office is running.

According to Tingley, customers surveyed seemed generally satisfied and the office is fulfilling its statutory requirements. But not everything is getting done.

“We also found that they don’t really have any documented strategic plans or performance measures,” said Tingley, who attributes the lack of long-term planning to Ott’s failure to be more involved in his own office.

Concerns have been raised about Ott’s health and fitness for the office, which he has held since 2001.

The audit, which Tingley estimated cost between $70,000 and $80,000, did not cover any health-related questions.

Due to legislation staggering election cycles, Ott’s current term won’t expire until 2020. Regardless of his job performance, Ott is unlikely to face consequences.

“Right now there is nothing in state statute that allows for someone to be removed from office,” Newton said.

FOX 13 News reached out to Gary Ott for comment. His office said he was unavailable for comment.