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Gainesville City Commission’s annual audit comes closer to completion with Reichert House resolution

Commissioners met at Gainesville City Hall Oct. 9 to discuss the new State Auditor General’s concerns. (Aidan Bush/WUFT News)
Commissioners met at Gainesville City Hall Oct. 9 to discuss the new State Auditor General’s concerns. (Aidan Bush/WUFT News)

Amid a mostly empty auditorium, Gainesville City Commissioners announced the city’s newest update toward resolving its annual state audit, leaving six issues left.

The Gainesville City Commission unanimously acknowledged an agreement made by the State Auditor General on Monday in a special meeting. The agreement ended state concerns around the funding of the Reichert House Youth Academy, a children’s support program that shut down May 31.

The meeting came as a response to aletter sent Oct. 5, which featured an early draft of the city’s 2022 state audit. In it, 18 of the state’s prior concerns around city financials were outlined, including updates on five reports around the Reichert House Youth Academy: the state isn’t concerned anymore.

The Reichert House Youth Academy was discontinued years after city audit reports showed a lack of financial transparency. The city “did not effectively oversee Reichert House, Inc., operations” prior to withdrawing funding, according to the state audit letter.

Gainesville stopped funding the program May 31 and, as a result, reached an agreement with the State Auditor General that previous state concerns no longer needed action.

Mayor Harvey Ward said the letter itself already ended the issue, but the city held its meeting to make the solution official.

“We wanted to go ahead and make it as official as possible, as clean and buttoned up as it possibly could be,” Ward said.

The Reichert House Youth Academy previously drew concerns from the state due to a lack of records transparency and the usage of nonprofit bank accounts instead of the city’s, according to the letter.

State concerns mainly involved nonprofits outside of the city government, so the issues were deemed not necessary for the city to correct after Gainesville stopped funding the program.

Annie Orlando, a Gainesville resident and local business owner, said the city needs to be more transparent regardless of the State Auditor General’s findings.

“Start with real accountability,” she said. “Tell me where you spent the money.”

Others were concerned with the future of the Reichert House Youth Academy program.

Rosa Williams is a community activist and one of the founders of the Reichert House.

Williams said the program served as a catch-all for supporting troubled children. The program provided support in any way it could, and children looked forward to attending, she said.

“It’s very important that we have a Reichert House,” she said. “It’s the young people that really enjoyed going there.”

Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker asked in the meeting if there were new funding sources for the academy. So far the organizations Palm Breeze Youth Services and Black on Black Crime Task Force have shown interest, City Manager Cynthia Curry said.

The remaining audit items, six partially corrected issues, were not addressed at the meeting. Issues related to Gainesville Regional Utilities may no longer be within the control of the Gainesville City Commission, due to the new state-appointed GRU board.

Other items include employee background screenings, selecting debt professionals, canceling purchasing cards after city employment is terminated, as well as concerns surrounding budget management and financial statement preparation in previous fiscal years.

The city is expected to meet with the state’s Joint Legislative Auditing CommitteeOct. 16, Ward said.

Aiden is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing