Inspector General audit: control issues at Palm Beach County economic agency

OIGAn audit of Palm Beach County’s Department of Economic Sustainability revealed $175,319 in questionable expenditures and another $13,691 that potentially could be returned to taxpayers, the Palm Beach County Office of Inspector General said this week.

The Inspector General’s audit found “control weaknesses and operational areas that need improvement,” the agency said in a summary issued Wednesday.

It said the agency needed better oversight of its grants program, citing projects from the 2013 and 2014 budget years that in one case didn’t go to the¬†lowest bidder and in two others had $30,000 in change orders that weren’t properly reviewed

The report said Economic Sustainability officials already have made some changes and will study the rest of the recommendations.

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Palm Beach County gets $1m USDA small business grant

Untitled-1Palm Beach County’s Department of Economic Sustainability has received a $1 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide low-interest loans to small emerging businesses in rural parts of the county.

Palm Beach County was one of just six local governments, and the only one in Florida, to get the grant from the USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program, Assistant County Administrator Shannon LaRocque told commissioners Tuesday in an email.

She said the county’s sustainability department has given low-interest loans to 32 local small businesses, resulting in the creation of about 1,540 local jobs over the last five years.