Following a WTSB investigation into questionable spending practices at the Johnston County Visitors Bureau (JCVB), Representative Leo Daughtry of Smithfield has asked the NC State Auditor’s Office to conduct an audit of the Smithfield-based agency.
Representative Daughtry said Tuesday he requested the audit without making any accusations “…but to simply ensure if there is any evidence of wrong doing that it be brought to light.”
Following an investigation, highlighted in four articles on WTSBRadio.com, the County of Johnston conducted their own internal audit. The county audit, focused only on 1 year, while our investigation reviewed spending documents for 5 years. Despite the county’s limited 12 month review, a number of problems were uncovered in a 16-page report.
Among the county’s findings, the JCVB had no clear understanding of ‘conflict of interest’ involving the selection of board members and the hiring of staff, alcohol purchases being paid for with tax dollars, numerous missing receipts for purchases, no basic documentation for the reason purchases were made, and no record of what happened to gift cards after they were purchased by staff.
The JCVB spent more money on one meal for their executive board in 2014 than the entire yearly food budget for the Dunn Visitors Bureau. A $2,500 cake for the Ava Gardner museum lacked a receipt but a photo of the cake was attached as the proof of purchase. Other taxpayer money was spent to buy gifts for JCVB board members.
“There is a general statute that allows you to give gifts to employees and board members. That’s legal, I’m not breaking any laws. This is how we do business…” JCVB President CEO Donna Bailey-Taylor said in a recent interview.
County commissioners have given Bailey Taylor and her executive board until December to report back with a plan to correct problems found in the audit.
The state audit requested by Rep. Daughtry is separate from County audit.
The JCVB collected $1,065,128 in revenue last year from the 2 percent motel occupancy tax. The majority of the money comes from taxes collected in Smithfield and Selma.