CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) A $1,100 treadmill desk is causing drama within Iron County. Tensions over who should pay for the NordicTrack exercise equipment could go as far as criminal charges.
In October, Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower approved the purchase at the request of his office employees who spend most of their day sitting down.
“I’m very loyal to my employees. I want to take care of my employees because happy employees go the extra mile and do their jobs very well,” Sheriff Gower said.
The employees aren’t just going an extra mile, now they’re now logging in two or three per day. Sheriff Gower said the physical and mental benefits validated the purchase which is expected to reduce medical costs.
“In the long run, we feel we will save money to the county. That was our feelings on it,” Sheriff Gower said.
“We want to be responsible for the taxpayer and not set a precedent,” Iron County Commissioner Alma Adams said.
Commissioners got wind of the purchase when it was flagged by the county auditor in late December. Adams said the commissioners decided it was a waste of taxpayer money, because the sheriff’s office already has a gym.
“The problem is we have all these different departments. If one gets that, then maybe they’ll all want it. We would have liked to have some say in that before they went into something like that,” Adams said.
The commission ordered the sheriff’s office to reimburse the price of the treadmill.
To help off-set the costs, an employee within the department set up a gofundme.com account. It collected more than $500 before Iron County Attorney Scott Garret raised concerns that soliciting contributions by state employees bring a second-degree felony charge.
Sheriff Gower believes the legislative intent of the statute doesn’t apply in this situation.
“Everything was done out in the open, above board in the daylight. It’s unfortunate that it’s gotten to this point. It really ism” Sheriff Gower said.
All the money was raised through the gofundme.com account will be paid back to the donors. As of Thursday evening, the employee who set up the account has not been charged with a crime.
The Iron County Attorney’s office says they are passing the case to another agency to prevent any conflict of interest.
As for the sheriff, he says the county will be reimbursed, but Gower says he’s not sure how he will do it.