Cover-up alleged in Port Orange faulty water meter controversy

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PORT ORANGE, Fla. - The saga of mismanagement involving faulty water meters in Port Orange will continue Tuesday night.

WFTV broke the story about the faulty meters that likely cost the city millions of dollars in 2012.

But Channel 9's Lori Brown found there's been another mistake and an attempted cover-up as the city works to replace those broken meters.

"Believe me, we're all tired of it," said Port Orange City councilman Bob Ford.

This time, the department spent $411,000 without council approval, using unauthorized vendors.

"I'm at the end of my rope," said Ford. "I'm not taking any more excuses."

Ford wants to know how 16 purchases could be made before anyone realized the mistake.

"We need to see significant action taken right away," he said.

Ford said what's worse than the unauthorized purchase was an attempted cover up. He said after an administrator discovered the overspending she tried to submit a new request for funding to City Council to cover the expenses without telling anyone.

City manager Greg Kisela discovered the attempt, but didn't tell City Council for three weeks, Brown said.

"We were sorting through precisely what had occurred. Where did we have the breakdown in internal controls," said Kisela.

The Public Utilities director and city's purchasing manager resigned after the truth came out.

Jason Yarborough was the second utilities director to resign in two years. The first resigned after the city purchased water meters that didn't calculate water usage, a mistake cost the city an estimated $2 million.

"To the rate payers, I'm sorry it happened," said Ford.

Port Orange spent $24,000 on a consultant to determine who knew what and when they knew it.

Ford said he doesn’t want any rate increases until the Public Utilities Department gets its house in order.