Audit Finds Florida City Has Fixed 23 Out of 31 Problem Areas from 2020 Report

by Andrew Powell


A follow-up audit for the city of Palm Bay by the State of Florida Auditor General found the city of Palm Bay has corrected all but eight of the 31 issues found in the 2020 report.

Palm Bay city Manager Suzanna Sherman responded to the Auditor General and detailed the findings that needed to be addressed, but had not yet been fully corrected.

“Thank you for the opportunity to review and provide our comments as part of this process.” Sherman wrote in response to Auditor General Sherrill Norman’s report. “The city remains committed to continuing to strengthen our ordinances, administrative codes and procedures to foster transparency, integrity and fiscal responsibility in our operations.”

The first finding in the audit that was unable to be fully corrected was the city had not taken steps to ensure they appropriately document how they would secure funding for highway interchange and connector road projects from governmental entities and developers. The document also stated that city officials had also not taken the appropriate steps to ensure that a project’s budget was properly considered.

In response, Sherman wrote that additional agreements were expected, however, it was impossible to move ahead with certain projects regarding connector roads and highways until a property owner plans on developing a currently vacant lot.

Also uncorrected was the finding that the city didn’t select a city financial advisor or bond counselor in a competitive process that ensured the city received the most skilled adviser with the smaller price tag.

“Without employing a competitive selection process to select professionals to assist in the debt issuance process, the city cannot demonstrate that it contracted with the most qualified legal counsel, received the best services at the lowest cost possible, or that the selection process was free from self-interest and personal or political influences,” the audit reads.

In response, the city said, “Consistent with Florida law and the city’s procurement policies, there is no competitive solicitation requirement for legal services, including bond counsel. The city selects attorney services based upon the requirements of Florida statutes.”

Another issue that wasn’t corrected was that the city was not conducting timely performance evaluations of employees, which is a requirement by city administrative codes. Another finding was that oversight was needed for tangible personal property records. The city was also ordered to update their accounting manual to ensure proper accountability when it comes to property records.

The city is yet to resolve the situation and is currently working on securing the funding needed to hire an asset manager as part of the Finance Department, according to Sherman.

The city had also failed to work out the cost effectiveness of automobile allowances for employees and failed to use proper record keeping of those using the vehicles. According to the audit, the city also had not kept appropriate minutes of meetings or made the information available to the public in a timely manner.

Lastly, the audit said that city officials had not established an IT disaster plan that would detail the procedures to follow if there was a major hardware or software failure.

According to Sherman, the project had been delayed due to hurricanes and other factors, but that the disaster recovery site should be fully operational by February.

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Andrew Powell is a contributor to The Center Square. 
Photo “Palm Bay City Hall” by Excel23. CC BY-SA 4.0.




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