On Dec. 13, the Gainesville City Commission’s audit committee met to consider the city’s fiscal 2021 audit and a series of outside audit reports. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and these reports were due in July—making them more than five months late.
But the reports were not only late. Internal, independent and state audits have all raised red flags about city finances. Earlier this year an internal memo said the city had 17 months of bank reconciliations waiting to be completed.
In the same Dec. 13 meeting, the committee heard reports on two other matters of public interest. One looked at reporting on preventable driver accidents at the Regional Transit System, while another evaluated the city’s compliance with public records requests.
According to the second report, more than half of city employees have not taken the required training on public records requests. In addition, the audit found Gainesville has the ability to make public records searchable, but it has not turned on the feature—keeping a little less sunlight from pouring into the way the city does business.
It would be hard to identify more critical local issues than city finances, public transit safety and compliance with open records laws. Despite that, the audit committee meeting was not widely covered in local media.
Two days later, as the City Commission was about to vote on sending the audit to the state, I looked around online to see how much market coverage it received. Two outlets had written short briefs on the audit committee meeting, while some outlets had missed it completely.
Meanwhile, at Mainstreet, reporter Camille Broadway sat through the entire 2 ½ hour meeting and wrote up a full report that night. Associate editor C.J. Gish stayed up to post it at 1:30 a.m. and add it to our Wednesday morning email newsletter. The story also went into our next print edition.
This is why local journalism exists. We sift news, sit through meetings, talk to experts, attend events and synthesize it all for you so you can get what you need to know quickly and efficiently.
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