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Taxpayers pleas heard, audit called for St. Augustine 450th

Residents want to make sure tax dollars are being spent properly

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – After city commissioners originally said no, taxpayers who protested outside of Monday's St. Augustine city commission meeting are getting their wish.

An audit of the contracts involving St. Augustine's 450th commemoration. 

Mayor Nancy Shaver says they are holding off on auditing every contract because the commission unanimously voted to take a closer look at just a few few of them, then decide if a bigger audit is needed from there.

"I'll be working with the city manager starting with three contracts that I think will be very helpful and illustrative of the need for additional work," Shaver said.

The mayor said she saw three contracts that raised concern which is why she suggested an audit. 

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She clarified this is not a financial audit, but they want to see if any policy changes need to happen in regards to how the contracts are drawn up. 

City commissioner Todd Neville said he thinks the public is more concerned with where the money is going.

"The public comment was very concerned about what was happening with money.  What she was talking about was policies and contracts and the legality of contracts.   I would like to be responsive to what the community is saying if we're going to go down this path," Neville said.

Last week, the mayor asked the city commissioner if they could look into contracts for the big celebration and see if the city is getting what they paid for, instead, many of the commissioners said no.

Monday dozens of residents showed up to tell the commissioners they wanted the audit done.

"We the people are paying the bill, and they're obligation, their fiduciary responsibility is to us, the people of St. Augustine," Pam Farnsworth, a resident of St. Augustine, said.

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The 450th celebration in St. Augustine is set to happen in just a few months which is why some people are concerned about how their tax payer money is being spent.

"A million was allocated, for the 450th, but what has come to the surface upon some review by the mayor, the figure of $3.6 million was brought up today by people who spoke. Without an audit, who knows how much money? All the more reason, if you hear a million here, or $3.5 million there, let's find out how much for sure," Farnsworth said.

The mayor plans to meet with the city manager Thursday and will discuss the contracts then but that does not mean it will appear on the next meetings agenda. 

The mayor said it's not time sensitive.  If an audit does come it will be public record so taxpayers be able to access that information at that time.

 


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