An audit is highly critical of some recent land and building purchases by Lee County Commissioners. The audit, done by the office of Clerk of Courts Charlie Green, finds that Lee may have paid 50-million dollars too much.
"The consistent theme is we are over-paying for properties," said Green. "The culture needs to change and the county needs to try much harder to get better deals and research these deals. Some of the purchases and the dollars paid, are just hard to explain or understand."
The audit finds: Lee paid $10.5 million more than the seller had paid, 2 years before, for a water treatment plant in North Fort Myers. On top of that, Lee is phasing out the plant, after buying it. It has no idea what to do with the land, after phase-out.
The audit goes on. It says Lee bought land for the possible extension of county road 951 into the county. Lee paid 17-million dollars more than the seller had, just a few years before.
Green told WINK: "I don't know why we bought land for a road that does not exist, and may never exist. What motivated us to do that?"
In another case, Lee bought a building in Ft. Myers, and the audit says the county paid 9-million dollars more than the seller had, just a year before. "It's not what I consider one of the better investments," said Green.
Homeowner and taxpayer Gil Kaminski agrees. "No I do not become happy when they spend my money, without doing enough research. I was in business, I know you have to bargain and you cannot over-pay, or you will be out of business. They need to drive better bargains and think a little harder about some of these deals," he told WINK.
As of 4:25pm Friday, commissioners had not reacted to the audit. Assistants to at least 3 of the 5 told WINK: the elected officials had not yet read the audit, and thus, could not comment.