Council Committee Hears More About Park Fiscal Review

Aug 2, 2016

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

Representatives from the Cincinnati Parks Department and the Park Board say they are working to implement observations from a fiscal review released last week.

It recommended more accountability and better accounting systems for the Cincinnati Park Board, park employees, and the separate Parks Foundation.

Scott Nickerson with Crowe Horwath LLC, who worked on the report, said there needs to be a memorandum of understanding between the entities "that outlines what those roles and responsibilities are."

"What that does," Nickerson said, "is it protects both the individuals as well as the organizations to understand what those roles are, and making sure someone is reviewing that process to assure there is proper segregation of those activities."

Members of Council's Rules and Audit Committee had mixed reactions to the report. Vice Mayor David Mann cited a memo from the city manager's office when the review was ordered last year.

"'The audit will include a detailed accounting of Park Board finances and provide recommendations that deal with any internal control deficiencies, as well as any opportunities to strengthen existing financial operations,'" Mann read from the report. "When I read the contract that was a part of your report, it wasn't clear to me that there was a match between what we were told this was going to consist of and what your description is of what it is."

Council Member Wendell Young was pleased with the results.

"I'm really struck by, and heartened by, the fact that this report, as far as I'm concerned, does not take the Parks Department to task in the way that I feared it might," Young said.

City Manager Black initiated the review last October at the request of Mayor John Cranley. The audit was requested as voters were being asked to approve a one mill property tax levy to support the parks. That levy was ultimately defeated.

At the time, park levy opponents and some media outlets questioned the actions of some park employees and the dual roles some of them played working for both the Park Board and the separate Parks Foundation.