Tampa City Council to Bob Buckhorn: Stop sitting on internal audits
For the second time since 2013, the Tampa City Council signaled Thursday that it wants to see the city’s internal audit reports, warts and all, at the same time Mayor Bob Buckhorn sees them.
“Audit reports are supposed to come to us at the same time as the mayor,” Council member Lisa Montelione said.
But that doesn’t happen. The Tampa Bay Times reported last month that completed audits can sit on Buckhorn’s desk for months before he signs them and shares them with the council. Municipal internal audits are exempt from disclosure under Florida’s public records law until they are complete. And City Hall does not consider them to be complete until they are signed by the mayor, which, in one recent case, took about nine months.
Buckhorn has said there’s a reason for this. Having the audit on his desk reminds him to make sure his staff follows through on changes City Hall should make in response to the audit, he says. If he signed and released it, he says, there’s a chance the follow-through would be forgotten as he was distracted by the crisis of the day.
But that rationale hasn’t satisfied several council members who have said Buckhorn should be able to make and follow a to-do list without withholding audit reports for months on end. Two years ago, after an especially critical audit of the Clean City program, they voted to ask for the audits at the same time the mayor gets them.
“Let us make it clear,” council chairman Frank Reddick said. “We had an official motion made by this council that was approved, I think by a unanimous vote, that we receive the audit report at the same time as they’re submitted to the mayor. And we are not receiving that report.”
Council members voted 5-0, with Charlie Miranda and Yvonne Yolie Capin not present, to ask city chief of staff Dennis Rogero to appear on Dec. 3 and justify why the council is not receiving the reports at the same time as the mayor.