Audit: Coffee County Conference Center Lost Nearly Half a Million Dollars


The Coffee County Conference Center lost nearly $340,000 in the last fiscal year, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

Comptrollers said the same facility lost more than $396,000 during the prior fiscal year.

Tennessee law requires that county facilities such as this find ways to pay all operational expenses, according to the audit.

Coffee County Mayor Gary Cordell did not respond to The Tennessee Star’s repeated requests for comment this week.

In a written response to Comptrollers, however, county officials said they have taken measures with accountability requirements “to work within budget and decrease net losses.”

“Also, periodic meetings are held between board and staff to ensure opportunities for revenue streams are not overlooked. Price evaluations are done twice yearly and whenever market rate requires change,” county officials said in the audit.

“Profit per item/event is reviewed weekly with a board member. Revenue streams from other sources are also currently being evaluated. All effort towards sustainability and market value are being evaluated regularly.”

According to the conference center’s website, the facility offers rental space for conferences, bridal, seminars, meetings, and concert events of up to 500 guests — at a fraction of the price that other venues would apparently charge.

The past several weeks, Tennessee Comptrollers have released the following findings:

• The University of Tennessee Board must increase its oversight of student safety and campus security and ensure the accurate and complete reporting of safety and crime information. The University of Tennessee Board should also ensure the UT System monitors the mental health services offered by each UT campus.

• The state’s 95 counties began the 2018 fiscal year with $972,608 in cash shortages that had not been recovered. During the fiscal year, $276,522 worth of new shortages were detected. Counties were able to recover or write-off $179,674 through restitution payments, insurance claims or other means. That left a net unrecovered shortage of $1,069,456 at the end of the fiscal year.

• At least $1,580 collected by the University of Tennessee – Knoxville Spirit Team was never deposited with the UTK Athletics’ Business Office. The Spirit Team is comprised of Smokey handlers as well as cheer, dance, and mascot teams. The money was collected by Spirit Team personnel in 2017 and 2018 for a one-day clinic and cheer tryouts.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Manchester Coffee County Conference Center” by Manchester Coffee County Conference Center. 






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