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Audit: Eatonville’s CRA Violated State Law, Policy By Approving Former Mayor’s Construction Loan

Eatonville is one of 1400 incorporated African-American towns in the country. Photo: Renata Sago.

Eatonville is one of 1400 incorporated African-American towns in the country. Photo: Renata Sago.

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It was a dramatic moment in October, 2019: Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole confiscated a $25,000 check to a construction company owned by the town’s former mayor, and requested an audit from the county comptroller.

Now, Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond has concluded Mayor Eddie Cole made the right call.

“I think that it was the right thing to do based on what we found,” said Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond. “If there was any gray area in their minds or if there was any doubt, I think this clarifies it. And hopefully going forward the town and the CRA will follow the rules.”

Diamond’s office concluded an audit that found the Town of Eatonville’s CRA’s consultant violated state law by approving the project and cutting the check without getting board’s approval. Diamond said, though, that there is nothing wrong with infill construction loan programs as a whole.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, in fact it’s something that can be very helpful and lead to very good results for communities. But this is a situation where the Eatonville CRA just didn’t follow its own procedures.”

Former Mayor Anthony Grant denied any wrongdoing, saying that the audit was an issue between the town of Eatonville and its CRA. He declined a further interview.

The audit also found the CRA violated state law when it gave $8,000 in extra compensation to four city employees, and also broke state law by hiring two firms without putting the contracts out to bid. In total, all three projects combined were worth $232,o00.

The audit also found the CRA violated state law when it gave $8,000 in extra compensation to four city employees, and also broke state law by hiring two firms without putting the contracts out to bid.


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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

Health Reporter

Abe Aboraya started writing for newspapers in High School. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe ... Read Full Bio »

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