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Palm Coast Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 9 months ago

Joint Legislative Auditing Committee approves audit of East Flagler Mosquito Control District

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The East Flagler Mosquito Control District was left with a $1.1 million budget hole after an accounting error.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The Florida Joint Legislative Auditing Committee didn't even need to discuss it: With no comment from any board members, the board voted unanimously at its Dec. 7 meeting to approve an audit of the East Flagler Mosquito Control District, which was left with a a $1.1 million budget hole this year after an accounting error.

There's no question that mosquito control is a critical government function. The question is: How can it be done most efficiently and responsibly with taxpayer dollars? I’m hoping the audit will provide us with some information."

— PAUL RENNER, state representative, District 24

Florida Rep. Paul Renner and Sen. Travis Hutson attended the meeting in Tallahassee to press the committee to approve the audit. No representatives from the Mosquito Control District spoke at the hearing.

"It will be good to determine how the error occurred and how it can be corrected going forward," Renner said in an interview after the committee approved the audit. "I think it’s important to see why the error occurred and if there are any additional problems beyond what’s been reported on. I think the audit will shed some light on that, and then we’ll determine if there’s any need for corrective action."

Rep. Paul Renner (File photo)

After the audit is completed, a report will be issued and any corrective action needed will be determined. The state would check after 18 months to make sure the district is complying with any requirements, Renner said.

Renner and Hutson had written jointly to the Florida Joint Legislative Auditing Committee in August to request that the state audit the Mosquito Control District.

Sen. Travis Hutson (File photo)

They requested — and the committee approved — an operational audit. Unlike a financial audit, which would focus on balance sheets, an operational audit would also look at factors like internal controls, management and compliance with regulation — a level of scrutiny Renner said is necessary in this case.

The Mosquito Control District's total budget is $1.8 million, and the district spent $2.1 million on a new facility at the county airport while developing the deficit.

“Flagler residents pay additional taxes to support an independent mosquito control district and reasonably expect the district to achieve greater efficiency and cost savings," Renner said in a joint news release with Hutson in August. "The lack of internal controls and safeguards that caused this deficit certainly call that efficiency into question. An independent audit will help determine what happened, who is responsible, and allow for appropriate corrective action."

“It is important that we know how the Flagler Mosquito Control District uses its budget year to year," Hutson said in the news release. "An audit will give us an opportunity to see where taxpayer dollars are spent."

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