Lauderdale Lakes is in some hot water, and not all of it is old news.
A preliminary report dated yesterday outlines the findings of the Broward Office of the Inspector General regarding the "gross mismanagement of public funds" in Lauderdale Lakes. The OIG says preliminary reports aren't public record until the affected parties have a chance to respond, but "MAOS
" blogger and professional harasser of everyone Chaz Stevens got a copy
Most notably, the report alludes to additional findings of ...
... "newly-discovered misconduct by the City administration" that are outlined in a separate report; the OIG says it's still a preliminary report and not subject to public records requests.
Check out the first report below; I'll be adding highlights as I go through it.
The report doesn't ease into anything -- the second sentence says "the nation-wide economic downturn hurt all governmental entities, but no other Broward municipality has realized the level of financial distress encountered buy the City, which -- in less than four years -- went from having over $6 million in general fund reserves to being unable to satisfy $9 million in debts."
It also blames city administrators and commission members for a lack of effective communication.
"The City Commission, as a whole, was misinformed and unaware of the City's deteriorating financial condition until the situation was beyond repair using normal budgeting measures," the report says. "Multiple commissioners admitted to OIG staff that they did not comprehend the written reports and information they were provided."
And now nobody has any money.
The OIG also confirmed the city misused $2.5 million in Community Redevelopment Agency funds "to pay City operating expenses, a practice with the Chairman of the CRA Board ... described as a 'shell game.'"
City revenue declined by 20 percent when the economy tanked in 2008, but the OIG found revenue estimates never changed. Revenue estimates were $514,000 off in 2008, $1.5 million in 2009, $3 million in 2010, and the 2011 revenue budget was almost $4.2 million more than what they actually raked in.
The report faults former city Finance Director Larry Tibbs (who either resigned or was fired in 2010, depending on whom you ask) for proposing "consistent, unrealistic, and unsupported revenue estimates." It says Tibbs and former City Manager Anita Fain-Taylor ignored the "indisputable indicator of the City's impending financial crisis" in 2009, when the city lost 79.4 percent of its general fund -- a drop from about $4.5 million to just over $900,000.