Audit raises concerns about waste of taxpayer dollars in Riviera Beach

Audit raises concerns about waste of taxpayer dollars in Riviera Beach (WPEC)

A trip to China, first-class airfare, gifts.

An audit uncovers more than a half million dollars in questioned costs in Riviera Beach.

The findings are contained in an audit just released by the Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General.

“There’s some waste clearly there, there’s a lot of waste,” said John Carey, Palm Beach County Inspector General.

Carey and his staff put Riviera Beach under the microscope.

“They were purchasing items and expending money that was outside of the city policies,” he said.

The OIG’s office found over $500,000 in questioned costs.

They found purchasing card transactions “lacked proper approvals, lacked adequate documentation and were used for prohibited items.”

“It looks like they didn’t know all the policies and procedures. They needed more training,” said Megan Gaillard, Director of Audit at the Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General.

About 70 of the 500 City of Riviera Beach employees have purchasing cards, which can be used for things like emergency repairs to a vehicle or emergency maintenance on a city building.

But according to the OIG report, city employees used the purchasing cards to buy prohibited items, like gifts for people, luxury items such as first class airfare, food, IT equipment and donations to charities.

“There was a great lack of understanding throughout the city of the proper procedures at all levels,” Carey said.

They also found problems with Riviera Beach City Council members’ out of state travel expenditures such as lack of documentation and receipts.

The trips include a $3,000 trip the mayor took to China.

“I went to China to see if I could interest them in a little city like Riviera Beach to come here and see if they would be interested in economic development,” Mayor Thomas Masters said.

The Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General also found some purchasing cards were not deactivated when employees left and were no longer on the city payroll.

“The Inspector General says taxpayer money was wasted. How could you allow that to happen under your watch?” we asked Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters.

“Well that’s what he said, and again we have to look at the report page by page and see exactly what he’s talking about. What he may say is waste, we may not say is waste,” Masters responded.

Carey says the city manager is very receptive to putting the checks and balances in place.

Because nothing amounted to criminal activity, no city employees will face charges or wind up in jail over this audit.

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