Hallandale Beach CRA accused of misspending $2.1M

Broward County Commission takes no action on audit request

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – A report by the Broward County Office of Inspector General accuses the Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency of $2.1 million of questionable spending.

The CRA collects taxes from businesses to improve so-called blighted areas.

"Loosey-goosey, fast, and furious, let's just spend the money," described Hallandale Beach Commissioner Keith London. "What I'm looking for is some real oversight."

On Tuesday, London and fellow Commissioner Michele Lazarow asked Broward County to audit the CRA -- but Mayor Joy Cooper opposed the idea.

"It's not their purview," she said.

"This is typical knee-jerk government reaction in Hallandale Beach," said Lazarow.

The 56-page report found "gross mismanagement" in the city's CRA.

"They spent money outside the CRA district," said London. "That's a no-no. They didn't follow the bond criteria."

Despite the report, Cooper, who is also a CRA official, said she doesn't believe the city did anything wrong.

"You're confident this isn't going to happen again?" asked Local 10's Bob Norman.

"Actually, I'm not saying it happened," answered Cooper.

"You're saying no money was misspent?" said Norman.

"No," she replied.

"That's what you're saying?"

"I still stand by it," answered Cooper. "No money was misspent."

"All they keep saying is we don't want to discuss, just stick your head in the sand, and I'm not going to let that happen," said London.

"What would you say to those that say you're in denial about what happened with your own CRA?" Norman asked Cooper.

"Oh, I'm not in denial," she said. "I'm absolutely, frankly quite proud of the CRA."

The county commission took no action on the audit request.