Last month, the California State Auditor reviewed the Department of Parks and Recreation’s budgeting and personnel practices and concluded, “… the processes for providing park districts their budget allocations and tracking their expenditures are inefficient and ineffective.”
This was follow up to identifying budgeting problems within the department during the past two years.
One of the major issues, which the auditor confirmed, was the inability for the agency to let individual park superintendents know their budget allocation. Park districts must rely on prior-year data and make assumptions about their funding levels without formal allocations until months into the new fiscal year.
“Specifically, the department provides the districts with their budget allocations months after the fiscal year begins.
As a result, the districts operate during the busy summer season using prior‑year allocations as their budgets, which some districts indicated was problematic in recent years because the official allocations they eventually received were sometimes significantly less than the prior‑year allocations,” the report stated.
The ponderous and inefficient budget system causes many superintendents to track their expenditures locally. Eventually, they re-enter the data into the agency’s overall system, creating redundant efforts.
A significant consequence of these inefficiencies is the inability to know the cost of operating individual parks.
The auditor concluded, “[The department] cannot comply with state law beginning July 1, 2014 that mandates it achieve required budget reductions by closing, partially closing or reducing services at its parks if its funding falls below a certain level.”
Other problems include the lack of a system or process to prevent inappropriate buybacks of employee leave and the Executive Personnel Review Committee does not receive adequate information to make the decisions for which it was established.