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There is a ton of interesting information in the audit released yesterday on the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. But one tidbit was just shocking.

From Andrew Donohue and Will Carlessarticle today:

The auditors also took issue with SEDC’s 25th anniversary celebration in August 2006.

The auditors traced $156,680 in expenditures back to the event. The report states that Smith told auditors that she’d received board approval for the expenditures, however, auditors searched four years of board records and found “no evidence of its discussion or approval.”

The audit says Dayacap, upon Smith’s request transferred $30,000 from various SEDC accounts into the “postage and promotions/special events” account to help pay for the party.

In a rebuttal letter, Smith said the celebration included two community events, a book documenting SEDC’s accomplishments and post cards.

Are you kidding me? They spent $156,680 on a party? A party??!!

What did they do at this festival of self love? Did they have go-go dancers on top of hand-carved ice platforms with komodo dragons as the main dish?

Whatever they did, there’s only one thing worse than spending $156,680 on a party: They spent $156,680 on a party and auditors can’t find any evidence that it was approved by the board of directors or City Council.

I can’t even digest this.

My wedding cost roughly $10,000 split between two families. And though I was a little flustered shaking hands and maintaining order, our friends and family reported that it was a stupendous affair, with alcohol, great music and an incredible setting.

Now, that was six years ago (this month!). So perhaps inflation has just gotten out of control in the last few years. Maybe great parties just cost 16 times what they did six years ago.

Or maybe something went horribly wrong at a public agency and we’re just going to have to realize that for months we could be similarly shocked as everything comes to light.

Update: I usually am pretty good with numbers. But the original version of this post had the cost of the SEDC party at 160 times what my wedding cost. That’s, obviously, wrong. Sorry.

SCOTT LEWIS

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