The Coastal Star

Delray Beach: City votes to keep auditor in place as needed

By Jane Smith

Delray Beach commissioners decided unanimously June 16 to rehire the previous internal auditor on an as-needed basis.
Julia Davidyan, who resigned in January, will be paid $160 an hour and junior accountants in her firm, JMD Premier Group Inc., will receive $80 an hour.
City voters overwhelmingly said in a March 2016 referendum they wanted an internal auditor. It took more than two years for the city to hire one. The internal auditor reports directly to the commission, as do the city manager and city attorney.
Davidyan played a lead role when her investigation found the prior city manager had engaged in “unprofessional and arguably unethical” actions. She testified at a special commission meeting held March 1, 2019, that led to the firing of Mark Lauzier.
But in early June, two city commissioners did not think Delray Beach needed an internal auditor. Vice Mayor Ryan Boylston and Commissioner Adam Frankel wanted to have a workshop to discuss the need for one.
“We have a new city manager who is getting his team in place, then we were hit by the pandemic,” Boylston said at the June 2 meeting.
But Commissioner Juli Casale wanted to move forward.
Davidyan’s “audit plan for fiscal year 2019 found we were high risk in four areas: information technology, finance, purchasing, and parks and recreation,” Casale said June 2. “Everyone will know what she is doing.”
The June 2 vote was split, 3-2, with Boylston and Frankel voting no.
Then-City Manager George Gretsas entered the fray when he met individually with commissioners to try to convince them an internal auditor was not needed.
The main reason, according to his PowerPoint, was that city department heads had at most three years’ experience in their positions.
On two slides, he questioned whether the internal auditor was “an in-house assassin.”

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