WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. — An operational audit of the City of Winter Springs by the state is complete, and the preliminary results found eight areas of concern and recommendations on corrective action.
Residents who have long complained about the city’s practices for years said this is vindication.
Some of the same issues found by the state on the use of penny sales tax money echo what was uncovered by a county audit earlier this year.
Unlike the county audit, which the city disagreed with everything that it uncovered.
The state audit has more teeth to it, and like it or not, and like it or not, city officials can disagree, but they may have to comply or face stiff consequences from the state.
For years, Jesse Phillips has been fighting Winter Springs City Hall about issues concerning the city’s water quality and about getting public records.
A 15-page preliminary report by the Florida auditor general vindicated what he’s been saying.
“The audit finally found that if you guys had done this in the sunshine, he said. “If you’d gone through the normal procedures, none of this would have happened.”
Transparency in how public tax money was used is just one of eight areas of concern the auditor general discovered.
“I think the city’s reticence to accept what is going on here is troubling,” said State Senator Jason Brodeur.
Brodeur initiated the audit by the state in January after complaints from residents.
“One of the things that you have is you have the opinion of a city that can’t operate a wastewater treatment plant, can’t pay a water treatment vendor, can’t fulfill public records requests,” he said.
Brodeur said the city has no policies and procedures for purchasing cards and no policies and procedures for reporting and investigating fraud. He would like to see their corrective action plan be in line with 400 other municipalities in the state.
The City of Winter Springs seems to have trouble in doing this. And so perhaps there’s an opportunity for the state to come in and make sure that the city is operating in a way that reflects taxpayer wishes.
Phillips believes it may be too late to teach an old dog new tricks.
“They have been completely unable to steer the city in the right direction,” Phillips said. “They need to consider whether they’re the best people for that job or whether we need to get some fresh blood.”
Just like the county audit a few months back, the city told us staff is reviewing the results and will provide responses to the auditor general in the next 30 days.
©2023 Cox Media Group