Okaloosa commissioner wants internal auditor

commissioner kelly windes

Okaloosa County Commissioner Kelly Windes

FILE PHOTO | Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 at 05:36 PM.

FORT WALTON BEACH — In the wake of the Mark Bellinger fraud scandal, local lawmakers and community leaders have called for more oversight in Okaloosa County government.

County commissioners have since set stringent limits on tourist development spending. They also have placed the tourism development department under the full supervision of the county administrator for the first time since 2005.

Now, the board is considering creating an internal auditor position. Newly elected County Commissioner Kelly Windes has proposed hiring an auditor who would report directly to the commissioners.

“This is really not my idea,” Windes said. “This comes from the people I’ve been hearing from on the (campaign) trail.”

Voters are demanding more oversight in light of the Bellinger scandal, he added.

Bellinger, the former director of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council, killed himself May 4 after officials discovered he had purchased a $710,000 yacht with county bed tax money. It was learned later that he bought a $740,000 home in Destin, a $48,000 Porsche, RVs, customized motorcycles and a building lease with county funds.

Many critics have since questioned how he could spend so much money with so little scrutiny.

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