TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance gave to a state agency on Tuesday its explanation for some of its widely publicized expenditures.
The Workforce Alliance, a publicly funded job training center, came under fire from state legislators in the past few months for spending $34,000 on meals for employees and $3,500 for a comedian.
The Inspector General of the state Agency for Workforce Innovation, the alliance's governing body, will now go through the explanation to see if the office will accept or reject any part of it, said Robby Cunningham, a spokesman for the agency.
Five categories of the alliance's spending were being questioned: food and beverage; Business Excellence Awards; scholarships; meetings/entertainment/speakers; and public outreach and promotional materials, Cunningham said.
Repayment for the food has already been demanded. And spending for the awards is under scrutiny.
Ballroom rental and food for two of those events cost $39,589. Alliance management approved $3,245 for chair wraps and table decorations, $989 on invitations, $1,150 for edible floral arrangements and $1,200 for a pianist and string quartet for the awards event in 2008.
Interim Director Ed Peachey, who was hired after the previous director resigned, said the alliance gave its reasons to the state for spending that amount on an awards banquet.
"The Business Excellence Awards were part of a community outreach," Peachey said. "Over the past three years, more than 40 businesses that attended those awards posted over 1,600 jobs through TBWA."
Peachey said he couldn't say how many people were hired into the jobs, but that the awards encouraged the businesses to use the system — which they did.
The workforce board is trying to continue helping local residents find employment, but without promotional tools or sponsored events, Peachey said.