Reichert House Audit report under fire for possible bias

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- The City of Gainesville audit on the Reichert House Youth Academy which found multiple problems including lack of transparency and poorly documented spending has itself now come under investigation.

The audit itself found nearly 40-thousand dollars was spent without explanations of how that money spent benefitted the program, but it was done by the city auditer who has been accused of having possible bias against GPD who runs the Reichert House program.

The possible bias being called into question is because City Auditor Carlos Holt has had GPD called to his home 14 times over a 3 year period. So Interim City Manager Deborah Bowie says he should have excused himself from this particular audit.

Mayor Lauren Poe commented, "when there are concerns about a conflict of interest, it's not whether there is but whether there is a perception. That's where I think there was an opportunity earlier in this process to recognize that this was there and just avoid all appearance of a conflict and move it out and so that's a lesson learned."

Reichert House administration say they knew there would be some things found to improve, some of those including city staff acting on behalf of non-city entities by signing for and even transferring money.

Director of the Reichert House John Alexander said, "we knew that there were some things that would raise some concerns that wasn't necessarily transparent and we didn't feel like it necessarily truly represented what we were doing but it's an audit process and everybody has to go through that experience."

City Commissioner for District 5 Harvey Ward voted to not accept the audit report, saying "any of our residents needs to be able to track the money that's a thing we have to be able to do very cleanly. Again you're understaffed you're trying to get things done, sometimes, I've been there, sometimes you don't write down everything you wish you had written down. Then 6 months later you can't find the receipt, I get it, but that's a thing we have to get better at."

Every commissioner took the time to say how pivotal of a role the Reichert House plays in the community by helping at-risk boys. However, they agreed changes will need to be made.

In the end, the commission voted 4-2 to accept the city auditer's report along with the comments from interim city manager about their plans to fix the discrepancies. They also voted to bring in a third party auditer to look into the Reichert House so the perception of bias can be eliminated. The commission will take up the topic again in mid-July. Until the topic is brought up again the Reichert House will continue operations as normal.