Supplementing my complaints relating to the Misspending by White Springs, FL of some $750,000 in Local Option Fuel Taxes, I have the following to offer.
I know Senator Montford’s Aid who approached the Joint Legislative Audit Committee stipulated nothing further would be done by reason that it was construed “LEGAL” Yet there has been nothing “Legal” about what has happened and you may check with the Florida Department of Transportation, Lake City Division as well who has been assisting Joe Griffin and I about this situation. I cannot believe Politics seems to be first and the Citizens of the State of Florida are barely second and are construed unimportant.
Evidence was provided relating to our CPA, Ken Daniels, telling White Springs that they can pay the salaries of the Town Manager, the Finance Director, The Police, Purchase a $60,000 excavator and trailer which will be used 50 hours a year, and a new Ford Pickup. Both my husband and I were thrown out of a meeting for trying to provide the council with four attorney general opinions.
Every meeting thereafter, two council members object to our accounts payable by reason such is being paid by LOFT funds. Rhett Bullard, esquire, Councilman, Tonja Brown Vice Mayor and Spencer Lofton Mayor believe they are right and the State of Florida is Wrong. This of course is shared by the CPA and our Town Attorney Karen Hatton.
The crux of the argument by the three councilors, the CPA and the Town Attorney pertains to the word “Operations” which you will note our CPA Ken Daniels in his e-mail stated that “Operations” is like an umbrella. THEN WHY ARE TRANSPORTATION FUNDS KEPT IN A RESTRICTED FUND and Why then do we have attorney General opinions. Rhett Bullard stated Attorney General Opinions mean nothing. They are just opinions. And all three Councilors said they can spend money as they see fit because Operations encompasses everything.
Much time has passed and we have gone to many people in Government, all advising us what department we should go to next. Now all departments feel the $750,000 misused is Theft and that the Town should pay it back except for the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. I believe Dan Hartley who visited our Council Meeting to introduce himself and Rep. Chuck Brannen who is in session right now must have noted the conditions of our roads.
Now if you don’t care if one of your municipalities as essentially coveted the State’s money in the amount of $750,000, not only do you need to remove the statutes because they are not followed, but obviously you can agree with the Town of White Springs saying they can use the Revenue LOFT funds as a General Fund slush fund without being restricted.
I can understand you need to protect your municipalities but I am a citizen who cannot understand why no one on the State Level has even sent a cease and desist letter to the Town of White Springs with a schedule of what the Town may or may not spend their money on. Now I understand why the Department of Revenue advised us to go to the FBI or the Media…that is the only place where something may be done.
Furthermore, even though it is felt at the State Level that you do not have to check Town auditing due to the fact that the CPA’s are there to provide guidance….well you are wrong. Neither the current CPA or his predecessor ever had any instructions other than spend, spend, as you like. Do you realize by not investigating the State of Florida is setting a precedence. I bet if one of your employees stole money over the last four years amounting to $750,000, you would handle it immediately. But a Municipality can steal all they want. It’s only money.
At least the Ethics Department is checking other violations of White Springs but not the LOFT funds. If you do not wish to do anything about this matter, let me know and I will be happy to send it on to the media in Jacksonville and Tallahassee. It has been months and the State does not wish to listen to whistleblowers. Why?
Karin A. Fleischhaker-Griffin CPCU