Mayor Andre Dickens’ spending of nearly $121,000 for last year’s Senior Ball celebrating the city’s senior citizens is being questioned in a new report by the Office of the Inspector General.
The OIG has referred its findings to the City of Atlanta Ethics Office for review of potential violations of the city’s Ethics Code.
The OIG initiated its investigation after discovering a payment dated Feb. 10, 2023, from the City of Atlanta to the Hyatt Regency Atlanta in Downtown for $120,653.48 that included instructions to process the payment as a “professional courtesy” for the 2022 Senior Ball, according to a news release.
The Office of the Mayor reported that the “professional courtesy” term was used to process payments that had not followed the city’s purchasing rules, according to the OIG.
The Senior Ball, an event that dates back to former mayor Bill Campbell’s term, is a formal affair to honor Atlanta’s senior citizens. At the 2022 Senior Ball, the city provided food, entertainment, transportation and giveaways to approximately 3,000 seniors.
The OIG report found “repeated instances of requests from the Executive Offices asking for direct approvals as a ‘professional courtesy’ as part of a pattern of purchases and payments that were not compliant with the city’s procurement and accounting policies.”
The report said expenditures for the 2022 Senior Ball prohibited by the City of Atlanta, Accounts Payable, Travel and Hotel Policy, included: City-funded hotel stays for employees, the mayor and members of the mayor’s family.
The mayor’s office failed to seek approval from Atlanta City Council for 2022 Senior Ball funding, also a violation of city policy, according to the report.
Although the Senior Ball started as a tradition under Bill Campbell’s tenure in the mid-1990s, the OIG said in its report there is no ordinance, policy or agreement establishing the Senior Ball as an official city event — which means city funds, labor, and resources are not allowed by policy to support the event.
“In response to the OIG’s findings, the Office of the Mayor affirmed this administration’s commitment to compliance with rules and regulations and expressed its intention to address the findings in executing the 2023 Senior Ball,” the report said.
“The mayor stated that he intended to reimburse the city for hotel room costs for himself and his family,” the report added.
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