The City of Lauderdale Lakes, sitting at the heart of Broward County and already owing nearly $5 million to BSO for contracted services, has apparently lost $1.7 million, equal to about 5 percent of its annual budget.
Not lost it in bad investments or unforeseen costs. Like, actually lost it. Buddy Nevins investigates at Broward Bulldog:
The city learned in October that money had disappeared. After an internal investigation, puzzled City Hall officials this month hired forensic auditor Michael G. Kessler & Associates to find it.
The Kessler firm also was ordered to determine whether somebody stole the money.
This can't be good for the résumé of City Manager Anita Fain Taylor, whose face is prominently posted at the top of Nevins' story. She's already taken flack for and been the subject of several gee-whiz headlines in the dailies (and, yes, here) over the unpaid BSO bills.
Now, the misplaced money isn't just the city's problem: It was borrowed from a CRA, or community redevelopment agency, specifically to pay for revitalization of parts of the city. If the city government can't find the funds, it will still have to pay back the CRA, adding to a current $4.6 million budget shortfall.
In past years, it's been popular for cities that can't afford their own police or fire departments to contract out to BSO -- the source of the city's unpaid-bills debacle. What if a city just goes belly-up and can't pay anybody? What if it hides its pennies under the floorboards, then goes senile? How about deannexation, where the county just takes it over? Hey, we like doomsday scenarios here.
Not so fast. Nevins scores an optimistic kicker from Lauderdale Lakes CRA manager J. Gary Rogers:
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"We are in the heart of Broward. This city's redevelopment plans will be realized. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday. It has to happen," Rogers said. "These current problems are just a road bump."
There's no place like home.