Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough County auditor goofs on grant money

TAMPA — Hillsborough County is not losing millions of affordable-housing federal grant dollars annually, after all.

County Internal Performance Auditor Jim Barnes says he spoke too soon in telling some commissioners as much last week.

The county may not be spending all the money it could collect from the feds for affordable housing. But the lost grant money is likely measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars, Clerk of the Circuit Court records show.

"I would say it was a misunderstanding of the financial data he was looking at," said Dan Klein, chief deputy clerk of the court.

Barnes is auditing the county's Affordable Housing Office after it was forced to forfeit $2-million in federal grant money last year, blamed on a missed deadline. That loss remains undisputed.

Barnes thought he had turned up similar annual losses, dating to at least 2004.

But it turns out the auditor looked at spending records for just the first year of the grant award, not the following years. Once the county wins a commitment of federal money, it has several years to spend it.

"You don't build a jail all in one year," Klein said in explanation.

Barnes briefed some commissioners — those who have been particularly critical of the office — on his initial findings. One, Kevin White, publicly pounced on the seeming revelation.

Now he's not so happy with an auditor so far best known for repeatedly asking for a large raise after just one year on the job.

"I don't like getting briefed on something, or something brought to my attention of such an egregious accusation, if we don't have all of our T's crossed and I's dotted," White said.

Barnes said it was a well-intentioned mistake. Affordable Housing officer Howie Carroll's job has been on the line in the wake of the lost $2-million. Barnes said he thought he had uncovered a pattern that predates him.

"I feel it's my responsibility to the board, if things come up, that I've got to protect their backs in a way," Barnes said. "My total intention was to say, 'Can you give me another week or two to give you something more conclusive?' "

Meanwhile, housing officials plan to tell commissioners Wednesday that they likely will have to return $827,000 to Housing and Urban Development from a rental rehab project that didn't go as planned. If the county can commit the money to another project by October, it will not lose the money altogether.

Housing officials will also present a plan to ensure such problems don't continue. The plan calls for filling frozen positions, upgrading computer software and rewriting procedures.

The Affordable Housing officer will continue to report directly to County Administrator Pat Bean. The report is silent on whether Carroll will continue to hold that position.

Bill Varian can be reached at or

(813) 226-3387.

Hillsborough County auditor goofs on grant money 05/19/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 22, 2008 11:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New 'cantina-style' Taco Bells to serve alcohol, ditch drive-thrus by 2022


    Taco Bell is ditching drive-thrus and adding alcohol.

    Taco Bell plans to open more than 300 "cantina style" stores across the country that ditches the drive-thru and adds alcohol. [Times Files]
  2. Late Holy Names swimmer Cailin Cannella was a fighter until the end

    Swimming Preps

    At swim meets, Cailin Cannella would race side-by-side with her breastroke competitors, their heads bobbing in near unison.

    Holy Names swimmer Cailin Cannella, here at age 13, still was practicing last year after finding out she had osteosarcoma (bone cancer). [Times 2016]
  3. Gators roundtable: Was that really a Hail Mary?


    Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks' last-second heave beat Tennessee Saturday in Gainesville, but was it a Hail Mary, typically a pass made in desperation with little chance of success? The Times' college football coveage team weighs in:


    Feleipe Franks #13 of the Florida Gators celebrates with his teammates after he threw a 63-yard pass at the end of the game to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers 26-20 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
  4. Ernest Hooper: Hillsborough marks 100th anniversary of historic photo collection


    Everyone ends up with a favorite

    Or two or three or 10.

    Rest assured, however, no one who adores Tampa Bay, appreciates art or cherishes history can explore the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection without storing at least one snapshot in the mental scrapbook.

    Part of the Burgert Brothers collection now featured through the Hillsborough Public Library shows a beer garden on Central Avenue in Tampa from July 1942. [Burgert Brothers collection]
  5. Tonight: St. Petersburg's six City Council candidates face off


    ST. PETERSBURG — Politics took a break in Hurricane Irma, but now it's time for City Council races to get going. The Council of Neighborhood Associations is set to host a candidate forum for the six candidates vying for three council seats at stake in November.