Senator Jim Norman
Representative Debbie Mayfield
The Florida Legislature
Joint Legislative Auditing Committee
111 West Madison Street
Claude Pepper Building
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Friday, April 27, 2012
Sent via: email, fax, and FedEx overnight delivery
Dear Honored Officials;
In the September 21, 2011 letter to Representative Hazelle Rogers, the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee’s review of the City of Lauderdale Lakes noted:
- A 34.5% increase in the millage rate and an across-the-board increase of all Special Assessment funds
- An illegal transfer of CRA money
- The need for a “complete redo” of the City’s Finance Department
Since that report, blistering incompetence, unabashed cronyism, and outright criminal felony acts, once transacted in the shadows of that city, now take place in the light of day. To wit:
- Lauderdale Lakes cannot finalize its FY11 audit — their own auditor noting, “the numbers don’t add up”
- Amazingly, the City’s exact cash position remains yet a mystery
- The FY12 budget is seriously flawed and does not correct any of the substantive issues outlined by your committee
- FY13-17 budgets are also deeply flawed
Frustratingly, while those in charge of Lauderdale Lakes have willfully, intentionally, and repeatedly violated numerous Florida laws, concerned taxpayers have stood helplessly by and watched:
- Money, derived from Special Assessment fund increases (both illegal and excessive), being transferred to the General Fund, and from there, recklessly misspent
- What once stood at $1.7M, the CRA “loan” now exceeds $2.5M
- A proposed lease-buyback that only stood to benefit the lessee
- Restructuring of various substantial debts with protracted terms
Recently, the Broward Office of Inspector General launched an investigation (OIG 11-021) of Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Jonathan Allen and determined he “engaged in intentional bid splitting [FS 838.22] and other misconduct” and “created both real and apparent conflicts of interest.”
Allen’s transgressions continue as he ignored the LAC’s advice; installing two unqualified individuals as the Finance Director and Assistant City Manager.
Clear rookie mistakes of his; gaffes made by someone well outside of their element.
Take the case of his hiring of Marie Elianor; once former assistant to the Oakland Park City Manager and now Lauderdale Lakes Finance Director. A woman who admitted:
- She was not balancing cash, had no idea which fund cash belonged to, and was not recording pooled cash properly
- For FY12, she left out the building fund, overstated (by some $600,000) the budget’s debt and the fire fee, and could not answer simple millage questions
- Has consistently overstated the General Fund cash balances, revenues (suggested 98% of taxes collected in December, 2011), and the 2012 cash flow analysis
What is most troubling is Elianor’s inability to produce the FY11 financial statements that are required to complete previous year’s audit. And, as a direct result of Elianor’s mistakes and contrary to Florida statutes, the City’s FY12 budget has yet to be amended.
As the City looks to move forward, their Long Range Plan is based upon a flawed and overstated FY12 budget – as noted by both City and County auditor. Those in charge also continue to incorporate Special Assessment fund transfers and provide regular financial updates with overstated cash positions and clearly fictitious accounting.
With the financial situation in Lauderdale Lakes growing worse by the day and given your own staff’s recommendations, the need for an Auditor General review is now prudent, obvious, and long overdue.
I stand ready to assist.