As a 25-year resident of DeFuniak Springs, I have followed the recent, never-ending saga of our city's financial woes very intently.

It all started with nine letters Mayor Bob Campbell received over a period of time from October 2015 through June 2017, which ultimately resulted in the loss of sales tax revenues in the amount of $220,945. It also resulted in a grand jury investigation that found "no criminal wrongdoing" even though Florida Statute 218.39 was violated.

It should also be noted that Mayor Campbell, former Finance Director Joe Brown and former City Councilman Mac Carpenter all were aware of the letters and failed miserably to bring them to the attention of the City Council for them to take action.

Former Councilman Carpenter said in a very public City Council meeting that “those letters mean nothing, every City gets them.”

To address the late audits when it was finally brought to their attention, the City Council enlisted the services of Carr Riggs & Ingram CPA's to unravel the mess and to date it has cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Just when it appeared the city might have its head above water, we were hit with a letter from FDOT Secretary Phillip Gainer stating they were withholding $220,252 in Local Agency Program (LAP) funding because of the city's failure to submit financial audits on time and not having the proper accounting procedures in place. Can it get any worse?


On or around May 28, a letter arrived at City Hall from the IRS stating the City owed $95,196.22 in back taxes from 2013. Ironically, Joe Brown, former finance director, received the letters from the IRS in August 2015, January 2017 and March 2017, and as with the nine letters from the Sate Auditors he never turned the IRS letters over to the Council.

Brown simply placed the letters in a file, and once it was known the nine letters from the state were going to be made public regarding his involvement in it, he turned in his resignation and walked away never once mentioning the IRS letters he received.

In an email letter to Mayor Campbell, Brown insists/asserts that "the entire Process was documented and all worksheets created to verify his correspondence with the IRS was left in a file in the finance department." The problem is, the only thing in that file were the letters from the IRS and nothing to indicate what (if any) actions he took.

The taxpayers of DeFuniak deserve better. We are literally bleeding money to CPA firms and attorneys to correct the actions of a few.

The unprecedented turnover in the last several years of key players in the city's administration should have prompted a complete state forensic audit of all departments – just as a matter of good business sense – along time ago. The city also owes it to the people of DeFuniak Springs who work hard for their money, only to see it squandered and wasted in this fashion.

I recognize that state audits are costly, but given the amount of money the City has already lost and what as already been paid and will be paid in the future to CPA firms, we could have already paid for a state forensic audit.

Lynda Morse is a resident of DeFuniak Springs.