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Investigation into what happened to tourism gift cards in Pensacola

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 02:33 PM CDT
PENSACOLA  --  The state of Florida is making noise about taking over a BP funded tourism program on the heels of problems with how that money was handled.
  
Will Kennedy tracks the investigation into what happened to about 600,000 dollars worth of gift cards

The plan was to use BP money to fund a gift card program to lure people to the beaches and area in Pensacola.
    
And that plan worked after the oil spill. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on those gift cards. But the question is now, where are some of those missing cards.

The Escambia County Commission met this morning and the chamber gift card issue was the first item up for discussion.
    
That discussion brought forward the fact that irregularities were documented three times before, twice on annual financial statements and once on a performance audit.

Gene Valentino/BOCC Chairman:
"There have been some irregularities in audits, two or three in fact, that showed that these irregularities have persisted. Now if they ain't going to fix it...we will."

According to the county the chamber had its own internal controls but many of the 50 and 100 dollar gift cards are not accounted for.
    
The investigation into what happened to those cards is just getting started and following the trail could take a while.

Pam Childers/Clerk Of Courts & Comptroller:
"It will probably take probably 60 days. That's the earliest we can gather. We have a lot of information to gather. We have to plan the audit. That's most important. And we will provide information as the facts come out."

Gene Valentino
"Let's hope at the end of the day the audit shows that everything balances out. But it was poorly managed and no one can deny that."

Both the tourism arm of the Greater Pensacola Chamber and the Pensacola Sports Association are funded by Bed Tax dollars they get from Escambia County.

Right now the county is paying legitimate expenses and salaries. But those expenses are up for review.Investigation into what happened to tourism gift cards in Pensacola


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