EAST NAPLES — An audit of Collier County’s now-defunct Economic Development Council uncovered no major red flags with how it spent taxpayer money.
The audit, conducted by the Clerk’s Office, was requested by county commissioners. The audit uncovered nothing alarming about the way the council spent $400,000 in public money it received annually to support its operations in the nearly three years before it closed.
Commissioners asked for the audit in September 2011, a few days before the council — a private-public partnership — shut its doors for good, following a firestorm of criticism about its job-creation efforts.
Some commissioners raised concerns the council may not have turned over all of its financial records to county staff members before closing.
The audit was to determine if public money was spent based on the terms of the contract it had with the county, whether back-up documents were sufficient to support its spending of taxpayer money, if other requirements of its contract with the county were fulfilled, and whether the assets the council bought with public money were all returned to the county.
“We saw no substantial inconsistencies or impropriety in the expenditures of the $400,000,” said Dwight Brock, Collier County’s Clerk of Courts, in a phone interview after the audit results were released to commissioners Tuesday.
The findings include:
■ The documentation wasn’t available to determine if the goods and services bought with county money were provided at the lowest cost.
■ The county’s annual grant wasn’t properly classified on council tax returns.
Commission Chairwoman Georgia Hiller said her only real concern from the audit was that the council paid too much for goods and services with taxpayer money.
“Basically, we got less for the public dollars through the EDC than we should have,” she said.
While all the public money was spent legitimately, Brock pointed out that his audit didn’t cover how the EDC spent its private money. Local businesses more than matched the money put up by county government.
“You’ve got to remember,” Brock said, “I’m not dealing with all of the money.”