Seminole County tourism division under fire for wasteful spending

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

This year, Seminole County's tourism division is spending $1.3 million to promote the area, but a special audit says tax money is being wasted.

Channel 9's Tim Barber spent Tuesday poring over the review, which shows wasteful spending that violated county contracts.

One issue in the report shows someone drove from their Lake Mary home to a meeting at Orlando International Airport and then back home. The person then drove to the Sanford Airport, back home to Lake Mary and then again to OIA for a total of 162 miles.

Other expenses violated county policy, which allows employees to leave a 15- to 20-percent gratuity. One employee, however, was caught tipping 30 percent for room service.

At Sanford's airport, the division agreed to pay a company $144,000 to advertise the county last year. But when the audit wrapped up this summer, none of the signage had made an appearance.

Barber went to the airport and found signs, but learned they weren't put up until after the report came out.

The Clerk's Office also had a problem with the fliers in the information booth, because most of them advertised other counties, Barber said.

The person who oversees the tourism division has not responded to Channel 9's request for an interview, but the report has recommendations for county managers to come up with new policies and procedures to ensure time and money are not wasted.