A state official is set to investigate the city of Gainesville’s financial operations five months after the city’s auditor was fired from his position.
The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, a state entity which monitors government operations, unanimously approved a request to audit the city’s finances Thursday. Rep. Chuck Clemons and Sen. Keith Perry submitted the request to the committee in a letter citing concerns about the firing of former City Auditor Carlos Holt, Gainesville Regional Utilities’ “lack of financial transparency,” and problems with Gainesville’s annual financial reports.
City Manager Lee Feldman said it is unknown when the auditor general will begin the audit.
In 2018, city officials hired an outside auditing firm to identify “oversights and inefficiencies during a time of great transition and turnover in the finance department,” according to a statement by Mayor Lauren Poe.
Holt said at the Thursday meeting the 2018 audit revealed financial problems like “capital outlay funds were [being] misstated over $8 million.” He cited a shortage of accounting and finance staff as the reason for the misstatements.
“If you don’t have the people, you don’t make the entries,” Holt said.
Clemons spoke to members of the committee on behalf of himself and Perry to ask for an affirmative vote to audit the city’s “operational practices” and “managerial oversight.”
“If there is not any improprieties, we can raise the flag and say thank you,” Clemons said at the meeting.
Mayor Lauren Poe and Feldman released statements Wednesday which both said, “Our doors and our books are open.” Poe did not respond to a phone call from The Alligator.
“We certainly welcome the opportunity to put to rest the baseless claims of a former employee and the caravan of characters who continually attempt to derail and diminish the good work we are doing here at the city,” Poe wrote.
Lauren Poe speaks to a crowd of reporters and about 100 supporters Tuesday at the Public and General restaurant. Poe beat three opponents to win his second term as mayor of Gainesville.