San Mateo County Manager John Maltbie is recommending tighter controls over participation in nonsanctioned events Monday in a report prepared in the wake of a Las Vegas excursion that resulted in embarrassment for two top law enforcement officials.

The report found that while employees paid for their lodging and transportation, the county incurred costs of roughly $9,475 in support of the trip, which involved 54 employees from the Sheriff's Office, Probation Department and District Attorney's Office and 11 county vehicles.

The employees were participating in the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay, a 120-mile footrace that is broken up into 20 stages and attracts law enforcement teams from around the world. Sheriff Greg Munks and Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos were detained by Las Vegas police April 21 at a suspected brothel. The men have apologized for the incident but denied any wrongdoing, claiming they thought they were taken to a legitimate massage parlor. Neither was arrested or charged with any crime.

Maltbie made several recommendations in Monday's report, accompanied by a financial audit by the Controller's Office. Maltbie said he will draft a memo requiring stricter oversight of participation in nonsanctioned events such as the Baker to Vegas race, including advance cost estimates and a reason for participation.

Maltbie also advised the Board of Supervisors to prohibit the use of county vehicles in "out-of-state nonsanctioned events."

Maltbie's report listed the annual San Mateo County Heart Walk as an example of a county-sanctioned event.

Supervisor Jerry Hill said the use of county vehicles for the Baker to Vegas race, where they were used for picking up runners and other logistical tasks, is his greatest concern.

"They (the vehicles) should remain in the county, where they may be needed in the event of an emergency or natural disaster," said Hill.

Hill was also concerned that the race could amount to a legal liability for the county — if a vehicle were involved in an accident, for instance — or lead to worker's compensation claims in the event of an injury.

"I would question the value of the event when compared to the potential exposure to the county," Hill said.

Maltbie noted in his report that the use of the vehicles appeared to violate an administrative memorandum requiring the county manager's approval for overnight vehicle assignments.

The financial audit contained in the report examined the costs and participation rates in the race the past three years. Participation increased from 35 to 54 people between 2005 and 2007. Costs, mostly related to the use of county vehicles, rose from $2,002 in 2005 to $4,685 in 2006.

Of the $9,475 spent this year,

$5,971 went to vehicle expenses, while $1,677 paid for two sheriff's officers to fly to Los Angeles to help plan the trip. The Probation Department paid $1,500 in registration fees for its 25 employees who participated.

Twenty-six sheriff's employees were at the event. Sheriff's employees spent 80 hours of work time, roughly $4,600, planning the trip. This indirect cost was not included in the $9,475 total cost estimate.

Supervisor Mark Church said it may be more appropriate for all such future costs to be paid for through charitable groups and donations, which is how the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office handles its participation in the race, according to a spokesman.

"There has to be a value or benefit to the county in order to qualify as a legitimate business trip, and only in such a situation should taxpayers' funds be used to fund travel," said Church, who confirmed that the board soon will take up Maltbie's recommendations.

Maltbie wrote in his report that the Baker to Vegas relay is regarded as a way to improve morale among law enforcement officials.

"Well, I don't know about prior years," said Church, "but I doubt this year's trip did much to improve anyone's morale."

MediaNews staff writer Will Oremus contributed to this report.