Big Spender: Audit Shows Atlanta’s Mayor Violated City Procedures, Overspent for Annual Party at Taxpayers’ Expense
New reports show Atlanta’s Mayor Andre Dickens may have overspent for an annual party at taxpayers’ expense. An audit from the brand-new Office of Inspector General Shannon K. Manigault investigated city funds used for the 2022 Senior Ball, proving tens of thousands of dollars spent went against procurement guidelines, FOX 5 Atlanta reports.
According to the report, the City of Atlanta paid $120,653.48 to the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. A note attached requested that “the invoice be processed as ‘professional courtesy.’”
Several Atlanta City Hall staffers spent the night and ordered room service for the one-night event, billed to Atlanta taxpayers. The mayor’s executive office also booked two rooms for two members of the Dickens family.
Dickens and a top aide explained, defending their spending, including the cost of alcohol. “The administration will also seek authorization from the City Council to retroactively ratify the City’s payment of any costs associated with the 2022 Senior Ball,” the statement read. “As the Dickens’ administration nears the conclusion of its second year, let us assure you that we take this investigation seriously and will continue to strengthen and document our processes.”
According to Rough Draft Atlanta, the formal affair was started by former Mayor Bill Campbell to honor Atlanta’s senior citizens. During the 2022 party, the city provided food, entertainment, transportation, and giveaways to nearly 3,000 seniors. The Hyatt submitted a $124,566.90 invoice to the city, broken down as $117,440.23 for food and beverage, $14,838.40 for audio-visual use, $7,230.10 for rooms, and $235 for parking.
With the annual event being a city tradition, the OIG revealed no ordinance, policy, or agreement lists the Senior Ball as an official city event, meaning city funds, labor, and resources are restricted by policy to support the event. In response to the report, the Office of the Mayor says they are committed to staying in compliance with rules and regulations to follow proper procedures for the 2023 Senior Ball.
The 2023 Senior Ball is scheduled for Oct. 28.