• Parks concurs with all audit findings and will take action….next year. When asked directly to comply with the State Auditor’s recommendations to develop a methodology to track park unit expenditures, Director Jackson stated that he intended to comply “in the next budget cycle.”
Last year, investigative media reports found that, while state parks were slated for closure due to budget cuts, the Department of Parks and Recreation hid $54 million in revenue and gave away $271,000 in unauthorized vacation buybacks for selected staff. Following this news, Assemblywoman Gaines (R-Rocklin) requested an audit by the State Auditor. Earlier this week, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and both Senate and Assembly policy committees heard testimony and reviewed the first portion of the audit findings. In addition, the committee heard testimony from the Attorney General’s office and the Sacramento District Attorney’s office. The hearing revealed:
• No entity or individual knows what it costs to operate any specific park. Though the Legislature has demanded this information for at least two years, the State Auditor’s report was the first independent assessment that specifically prioritized this problem. It was not possible to measure the impact of recent actions to keep parks open because the department does not budget at the park level.
• Donor agreements represent “more faith than certainty.” With no fiscal information, donors and foundations associated with parks are forced to rely on what the State Auditor found to be “outdated” estimates on the financial needs of any individual park unit.
• Criminal Investigations Continue. The Attorney General’s office indicated that there were ongoing criminal investigations. The Attorney General’s office did not indicate when their inquiry would be concluded.
• More Information Awaits. The State Auditor, pursuant to Assemblywoman Gaines’ request, will begin the second phase of the audit to determine how other funds are managed in the department
Change Will Be Enacted…Later
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