Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mass corruption, lost records, big traffic fines may prompt Florida legislators to dissolve rural town

Rampant corruption could lead to the elimination of a rural town in Florida. An audit of Hampton, which has fewer than 500 residents, found "unreliable accounting, a lack of oversight, duplicated paychecks, missing deposits, lost records, a failure to correct errors, an absence of written policies, lost revenue and other irregularities," Lizette Alvarez reports for The New York Times. State legislators have advocated dissolving Hampton and making it part of unincorporated Bradford County, but are giving the town a chance to fix its problems before making a decision.

Hampton "was supposed to maintain its public records and keep track of the ordinances the City Council passed. It did not," Berman writes. "Officials said some records were 'lost in a swamp' due to a traffic accident, but no accident was ever reported, the audit said. The city had more than $27,000 in expenditures that were ostensibly public, but lacked the necessary explanation for what purpose they served." (Read more)

The audit, which also found that the "city’s elder-care center did not receive a water bill for seven years" and three city commissioners didn't receive a bill for 17 months, was issued after the town became known as a speed trap, with 12,698 speeding tickets issued in 2011 and 2012, Lizette Alvarez reports for The New York Times. The police force grew from one officer to 17, and the town took in $151,000 in traffic fines in 2012, $268,624 in 2011, and $197,247 in 2010, but still operated at a deficit. The mayor is also in prison awaiting trial for possession of Oxycodone with intent to sell. (Read more)

No comments: