State orders audit of Delray Beach CRAby Dara Kam | April 1st, 2013
A joint legislative committee ordered the state auditor general to conduct a review of the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency based on complaints questioning the CRA’s spending on the Arts Garage.
Joint Legislative Auditing Committee Chairman Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, said the audit, requested by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, should be done sometime this year and hopefully will put to rest concerns about whether the CRA is allowed to funnel money to non-profit organizations.
Abruzzo said the committee gave Auditor General David Martin broad leeway to look into how the CRA is spending their money and if there are any conflicts of interest.
Gerry Franciosa, president of an organization called Delray Citizens Coalition Board, last month asked the Delray Beach Mayor Tom Carney and other city officials mayor to find out whether the CRA is breaking the law.
The CRA budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year includes $310,735 for funding to support the operations of
the Arts Garage. The CRA spent $304,795 on the facility last year, according to a staff analysis of the audit request.
According to a 2010 opinion by former Attorney General Bill McCollum, grants to CRAs to “promote tourism and economic development, as well as to nonprofits providing socially beneficial programs, would appear outside the scope of the community redevelopment act.”
Abruzzo said that’s how he interprets the law as well, but is hoping an audit will clear things up.
“It’s all hearsay at this point until we get an exact audit. Hopefully (the auditor general) comes back and says everything’s on the up and up and there’s nothing wrong here. They’re good. That would be great. Then the concerns are washed. But if he comes back and there’s issues, then we’ll have to go from there,” Abruzzo said.
The auditor general could refer findings to prosecutors if the audit finds that laws have been broken and will report the results to Abruzzo’s committee, probably sometime next year, Abruzzo said.