Politics

How to hide nearly $150K in payouts from the Pensacola City Council and taxpayers

September 13, 2016

In August and September of 2015, Mayor Ashton Hayward paid his former COO Tamara Fountain $54,002 as part of a mutual termination agreement and another $95,571 to former City Administrator Bill Reynolds and his attorney as part of a settlement agreement.

Neither expenditure was reported to the Pensacola City Council or the taxpayers. Fountain’s mutual termination agreement probably did not require council approval. The settlement of the Reynolds lawsuit did.

How did Mayor Hayward, City Administrator Eric Olson and CFO Dick Barker hide the payouts from the council and the public?

Just as Barker has done with the overtime expenditures in the Fire Department, the city quietly adjusted the budget figures and did not post the monthly line-item financial reports until weeks, and sometimes months, after the month ended.

The monthly line-item reports show that the salaries jumped from $44,017.20 in July 2015 to $131,879.47 in August 2015 and to $117,005.65 in September 2015.

How did the Pensacola City Council miss the sharp increases? First, the Hayward administration did not post the August report to the website until Sept. 25, 2015. The September 2015 report was not posted until Dec. 1, 2015.

Barker increased the budgets for Salaries in Mayor’s Office –by $43,771 in Aug. 2015 and by $81,240 in Sept. 2015. This made discovery nearly impossible without going through the monthly statements line by line. The CFO never reported on the expenditures in his monthly report to the council.

The original budget for the Mayor’s Office Personal Services, which was approved in Sept. 2014, was $929,600. The actual expenditures, $1,115,717.50, exceeded the original budget by $186,117.50 (17 percent). See page 7 of sept-monthly-line-item.

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