Since March, the CPA firm Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund has investigated the BP gift card program administrated by the Greater Pensacola Chamber. Yesterday the accountants gave their preliminary report.
Of the 6,060 cards, total value $518,500, distributed by the chamber, only 65 cards, value $4,000, have not been accounted for. The accountants aren’t sure whether those cards were activated and/or used. To determine that, the chamber or county would have to file a lawsuit against American Express to get their records on the missing the cards.
Considering that less than 1 percent of the cards are missing, it’s doubtful that will happen.
Chamber President & CEO Jim Hizer issued the following statement:
“It is gratifying that external auditors have determined that more than 99 percent of the American Express gift cards that were distributed by the Greater Pensacola Chamber have been accounted for and were used for their intended purpose. We remain hopeful that, once American Express provides the auditors with the requested additional documentation, they will be able to account for the remaining 1%.
By all measures, the British Petroleum (BP) gift card promotion, which was implemented to encourage visitors to return to the Gulf Coast following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, was a tremendous success. This program sparked three years of record growth in tourism-related revenue in Greater Pensacola.
Under the leadership of our recently named chief financial officer, Fawnn Harnage, the Chamber’s finance department has been aggressively implementing all recommended internal controls and updated accounting procedures to ensure full and proper accountability.”
The BP gift cards were distributed by the Pensacola Visitor Information Center, Pensacola Beach Chamber and the Perdido Key Chamber. Of the 4,845 cards the VIC and PBC distributed only 45 had documentation that was unreadable or missing.