Tampa, Florida -- The Tampa Housing Authority is blasting our reports that led to a HUD audit, which it claims gave the agency a clean bill of health.
But 10 Investigates the audit and finds that's not true, and a U.S. Senator is still critical of the THA.
While the audit didn't find any illegal activity, the auditors did say the more than $743,000 spent on travel in the past three years must be reduced if revenues decrease as expected.
However, the Authority has budgeted for more travel next year.
Of the travel expense files auditors looked at, there were problems in more than half of them -- including no receipts, missing signatures on travel forms and no airline printouts.
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The agency is told to modify the travel policy to get the best hotel rates in the area, and provide documentation that travel is necessary.
The auditors say going forward, the Housing Authority will have difficulties maintaining the cost of executive salaries.
The THA blasts what it calls our spurious and salacious reports, pointing to the fact the audit says it saved $3 million by moving into an existing building and renovating it a cost of $7 million. However, it neglected to mention in its news release that former Mayor Pam Iorio and Tampa Housing Authority Commissioner Rubin Padgett argued when the agency wanted to move its headquarters, that the agency didn't need the new office building.
Both said instead of moving to new headquarters, the THA should spend the money by focusing on creating more affordable housing for the poor.
Meantime U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, who has been following our investigation says, "I am extremely disappointed the audit justifies egregious spending at the Tampa Housing Authority."
Grassley is convinced that HUD regional offices don't conduct much -- if any -- oversight of local housing authorities, choosing instead to accept management documents at face value. According to Grassley, the THA shouldn't celebrate a cursory review that glossed over significant spending problems.
Wasteful spending is wasteful spending, and he says, "Be assured that I will continue to pursue my investigation."