City tackles Parks and Rec audit issues

Published 4:05 pm Monday, February 12, 2018

Documents from theft to be turned over to law enforcement, prosecutors

City officials will turn over information regarding the theft of $15,000 from Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation to local law enforcement and prosecutors, following a unanimous vote by the Winchester Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

In an audit obtained last week, a number of issues were found regarding the department’s finances, including the theft of funds by an employee. The person repaid the money and resigned, but criminal charges were never filed.

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Tuesday night, Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner made three motions regarding Parks and Rec. The first involved the theft. The second calls for an outside company to supervise the department’s finances for an undetermined period of time. The third calls for the parks board to develop an action plan for resolving the issues and to make monthly reports to the city commission.

All three were approved unanimously. Commissioner Kitty Strode was absent.

“In my judgment, the parks board needs to do an action plan for everything in the audit,” Burtner said, to include the issue, steps to remedy it and a timetable for completion.

The city also gave the parks board the option of using the city’s finance department to assume control of the department’s finances and check-writing abilities, or to hire an outside company to take over payroll, payments and preparing financial reports.

“I really strongly encourage the parks board to pick one,” Burtner said. “It’s my understanding the parks board will take up that matter Monday. I do think it’s something the parks board needs to do.”

The audit was the department’s first and was required as a special purpose governmental entity.

Auditors found a number of issues including $64,000 in credit card debt and a $158,690 deficit at the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year. The staff was also not preparing financial statements, reconciling the bank statements monthly or recording credit card purchases on the department’s ledger.

They also found vendor transactions were not recorded or identfied properly, and the budget did not match the general ledger.

The department receives almost 60 percent of its funding from the city and Clark County, according to the audit.

“I think the audit was a good thing,” Burtner said. “I think the reporting on the audit was a good thing. There is some work to do and I’m confident we’ll get the work done.”

“This has been a painful experience over the past month,” said commissioner Shannon Cox, who also serves on the parks board.” but we’ll be better for it.”

Parks director Jeff Lewis said most of the findings in the audit were not a surprise.

“We knew we were going to have a lot of things we’d have to fix,” he said. “Once June and July passed, we’ve been doing great. We did our grieving then.

Our debt is almost cut in half. We are caught up on our bills. What is left is that old debt.”

Burtner said what started the financial problems was the addition of the pool about a decade ago and a number of related items that have never worked properly.

“… They continue to struggle with climbing out from under the financial burden of that,” he said. “I think that’s where we started down this road for parts and pieces that didn’t work.”

In other action, the commissioners:

— approved the first reading of an ordinance to amend the city-county subdivision ordinance and definitions of major and minor subdivisions.

— approved the second reading of an ordinance to rezone .573 acres on East Broadway Street from R-1 residential to B-4 business.

— approved an order to name an unnamed street near Clark Regional Medical Center as Floyd Clay Drive.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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