65ºF

City audit finds nearly $1 million in unused money

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Amid all the belt tightening and gnashing of teeth among city officials, almost a million dollars of taxpayers' money has been sitting around untouched and unspent for years.

That's the finding of Jacksonville's Inspector General about a program designed to help emerging small businesses that work with the city.

An investigation revealed the money has been lying around since the fall of 2012.

A 30-page report concerns the "Access to Capital" program. There was a loan pool available to approved small businesses, and the Inspector General's office found that a large portion of the money didn't make a difference, because it didn't go to those small businesses.

A Management Review in April found the Office of Economic Development didn't understand its responsibilities in the program.

First Coast Micro Loans issued the loans, working for parent company Essential Capital. The last loan they issued came in July 2012.

Nine months later, Essential Capital wanted to terminate its participation in the program.

When the funds were returned to the city, they sat in a fund labeled "unidentified remittance liability account."

New Mayor Lenny Curry's spokesman said it's a reflection on Mayor Alvin Brown's administration.

"Just under a million dollars not leveraged for small business. (It shows) mismanagement and lack of procedural controls by the Brown administration," city spokesman Bill Spann said. "This is the type of thing you'll see Mayor Curry and his team look at more. Tighter management and procedural controls in the coming months."

The AC Program started in 2004 and since 2005 has provided more than $2.7 million in capital loans.

The loan pool came from independent authorities of the city, like JEA, JTA, and JaxPort, among others.


About the Author: