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The state auditor is investigating whether iProvo's revenues are what they should be.
Translation: Are the telecommunication companies that provide services to subscribers paying their bills?
That question was raised by an anonymous caller to the state whistle-blower hot line.
State Auditing Director Deborah Empey on Friday would not detail the allegations. But The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a Dec. 20 letter she sent to elected officials that said the complaint alleges "iProvo service providers are in serious delinquent status."
She asked that the city provide her office with iProvo-related accounts-receivable records from January 2005 to December 2007. She also wants tape recordings of the council's closed meetings held between July and December 2007.
Under state law, Provo must lease its network to telephone, cable-television and Internet-service providers. It currently contracts with Mstar, Veracity Communications and Nuvont for service to residents and businesses.
When it was created in 2004, the city said iProvo would become self-sufficient once 10,000 subscribers signed on. That milestone was passed in September, but the city continues to subsidize the network to the tune of $2 million a year.
Mayor Lewis Billings said Friday he was "fine" with the audit, but said staff was reviewing the documents to make sure the city would not violate any nondisclosure agreements.
"We're trying to be careful to not put the city at further legal risk," Billings said. To protect that information, state auditors could sign nondisclosure forms or providers could be asked to waive their privacy agreements.
For Billings, the revenue problems boil down to this: One party wants to be paid sooner than the other wants to pay.
That, he said, is common in business relationships. He said the providers are struggling and working hard to increase subscribers.
Municipal Council Chairman George Stewart acknowledged he has been called by the auditors who asked if he knew if service providers had been prompt in their payments. He said he declined to answer some of their questions because the answers involved closed-meeting discussions.
But he welcomes the audit, saying it helps keep government accountable.
"We have two sources of oversight. One is the [news] media and the other is the Auditor's Office," Stewart said.
In addition to the state auditor's investigation, Provo has retained CCG Consulting of Beltsville, Md., and Franklin Court Partners of Littleton, Colo., to review iProvo's operations and suggest ways to make it self-sufficient.