The MCTA has reviewed the last year’s audit for the Business Development Board which was on the April 19th BOCC meeting.

It was not a clean report since the auditors pointed out accounting policies not in line with best practices. Among the discrepancies found by the auditors were that there was not timely reconciling of accounts, and that one person is performing too many accounting functions. We do not believe there is anything being done at the organization that would rise to the level of malfeasance or misfeasance. Perhaps, at worst, there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

We have for some time believed that the board is much too large to do an effective job in oversight. The board is a political and insider who’s who of Martin County elites. Everyone seems to have a seat, but no one has much responsibility.

Further, their budget is composed of $450,000 from Martin County taxpayers with another $35,000 from Martin County municipalities. Government handouts make up $485,000 of the nearly $519,000 in total income. In effect, it is a creature of government without the oversight that the taxpayers deserve. This is nothing new and has been going on for years. It just appears that the BOCC does not have the political will to bring this function in-house.

The audit uncovered improper bookkeeping procedures. Another area of concern was that the employees lacked an understanding of accounting. A direct quote from the audit: “We strongly suggest that a better understanding of not-for-profit accounting principles and QuickBooks would significantly benefit the Organization not only in terms of internal controls and related processes but also with regard to financial reporting and the accuracy of related financial statements. In our opinion, this is a significant part of the basic foundation of knowledge that must exist within the Organization in order to overcome many of the issues cited in this correspondence.”

If the financial responsibilities of the BDB were brought under the county’s finance department, it would be a step in the right direction. But that is not the real problem with this organization. Unlike the St. Lucie County EDC, the BDB suffers from a lack of focus and dynamism. St. Lucie County knows where it wants to go. Martin County doesn’t want too much business to disrupt the nature of the county and then only want what the elites consider the right types of business.

Because there is no strategic vision, we are wasting the taxpayers’ money on halfway measures. A review of what businesses the BDB played a key role in bringing to Martin County, would be the same ones that several other organizations would also take credit for.

When we had an independent tourism board, it too was a waste of taxpayer dollars. Once the BOCC brought that function in house, there was a concentrated effort to determine how we should go after tourism dollars. It is time to stop spending our tax dollars so that the political and current business elites can have a place to call home.

With nearly a half a million dollars of government money, the results should be measurable and quantifiable…not what the BOCC currently receives in the form of Rah-Rah pep rally speak. Every taxpayer should demand accountability which is sadly lacking in this situation.