City of Gulf Breeze Tiger Point Golf Club Acquisition and Management and Other Activities:
An Operational Audit of the State of Florida Auditor General.
Published September 2020
Attached are the City’s September 8, 2020 Written Statement of Responses to the Findings in the Operations Audit of the City of Gulf Breeze Tiger Point Golf Club Acquisition and Management and Other Activities. From 2020 to present, the City has made progress on its policies and actions recommended by state auditors.
This operational audit was initiated in 2017 by the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee in response to county petitioners outside of the City limits regarding the City-owned Tiger Point Golf Club (TPGC) and South Santa Rosa Utility System (“SSRUS”).
As explained throughout the audit, and as set forth in the City’s responses, the Tiger Point Golf Course was purchased by the City in 2012 to ensure its continued use for effluent disposal capacity for the SSRUS, which serves the petitioners. Although the audit findings suggest otherwise, the City’s review validates the rationale for the purchase of the TPGC, which despite the $5.4 million costs ultimately saved the ratepayers from funding a completely new second wastewater treatment plant elsewhere.
In 2021, the City of Gulf Breeze sold the golf course operation of Tiger Point and consolidated the former South Santa Rosa Utility System and the City of Gulf Breeze Water and Sewer System into the Gulf Breeze Regional Water System (GBRWS). The GBRWS advisory citizen board continues to review utility purchases and operations of the GBRWS and advise the Mayor and Council, which has been the 30+ year practice in order to ensure transparency for all ratepayers.
The operations audit undoubtedly placed a burden on our small City, with a population of less than 6,000 and, accordingly, a small administrative staff. In the 28 months of this audit, spanning from April 10, 2018 to August 7, 2020, the city estimates that 2,980 City man-hours by 14 personnel were spent researching issues and responding to questions raised by the auditors, costing the City an estimated $108,722. These numbers do not include time spent by our City Attorney and our financial auditors, who are with firms outside the City. The audit’s focus on a period from 1985-2012, well before the current City Manager and City Attorney were appointed and the current City Council took office, adding significantly to the challenge of responding to the auditor’s inquiries. Nonetheless, the City has undoubtedly taken the audit seriously. City staff fully cooperated with the audit team, researching issues and providing answers to the best of their ability.
An Audit Timeline 2017-Present
- November 2017: The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee sends notice of an operational audit of the City of Gulf Breeze to City Manager Samantha Abell, two months into the position after serving as interim for four months.
- The operational audit is based on petitions from county residents related to the management of Tiger Point Golf Course purchased by the city’s water and sewer utility in 2012. ‘
- In 2017, the City purchases Meeting Manager Pro in and Public Records Request Tracker through Icompass. (Civic Web – cloud-based) The new software manages and provides online access to historical and archived records for both public and staff. Previously, the City used MCCI Laserfiche weblink to digitally store minutes, resolutions and ordinances.
- Also in 2017, Records Manager was purchased through Icompass to work in conjunction with Meeting Manager pro. The program facilitates universal records tracking, management and retention.
- July 2018, City Attorney Mary Jane Bass, partner at Beggs & Lane law firm, is appointed by Mayor and City Council.
- December 2018, the new Mayor and Council members take office.
- 57 City Council meetings held. 4200 pages of agenda documents and minutes reviewed. 67 resolutions adopted and 15 ordinances adopted.
- The City Council attempts to update its city charter for purchasing policies to be consistent with state law on a special ballot referendum. The charter update does not succeed.
- The City Council appoints a Charter Review Committee to research the city charter and any recommendations for updates.
- City receives the GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
- Zero findings in the FY 2019 external financial audit.
- City completes the Auditor General operational audit after 28 months.
- This operations audit was published and added to the city’s website the same month that Gulf Breeze was impacted by Category 2 Hurricane Sally and a 500-year flood event, followed by two more named hurricanes and other severe storm events. The three-mile Pensacola Bay Bridge was destroyed for 8 months, impacting employee personnel turnover due in part to the added hour-long commute for employees.
- Amidst months of hurricane recovery and the Covid-19 global pandemic, the City Council held public meetings to continue to update numerous policies including consolidating two water enterprises (inside and outside the city) into the new Gulf Breeze Regional Water System.
The City Council held public workshops to review policies and procedures, including with the Charter Review Committee and the Capital Trust Agency Board of Directors.
Public workshops were held in order to update the 1999 Capital Trust Agency by-laws, policies and procedures between the City of Gulf Breeze and the Town of Century, as recommended by the state audit report.
- June 8, 2022 a follow-up audit begins. Section 11.45, Florida Statutes, requires the Auditor General, no later than 18 months after the release of a report on the audit of a local government entity, to perform such appropriate follow-up procedures as deemed necessary to determine the city’s progress in addressing the findings and recommendations contained within the Auditor General’s previous report.
- Also in June 2022, the Capital Trust Authority is officially formed in June 2022 when the City of Gulf Breeze and the City of Quincy entered into an interlocal agreement to form the Capital Trust Authority.
- August 2022, the Circuit 2 Court validated the Capital Trust Authority’s program.
- September of 2022, the City Council continued to update policies and procedures based on the state audit including an ordinance for interfund loans, and resolutions related to real property acquisition policies and updates to the City Council Orientation Handbook.
City of Gulf Breeze