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City pledges improvements after critical Rec and Parks audit

City officials this week are pledging to enact financial improvements at the Department of Recreation and Parks after a critical audit.

On Wednesday, the agency plans to outline its reform steps, including new policies and better training, before the city's Board of Estimates.

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In April, a city audit found the agency kept erroneous financial statements, confused revenue and expenses, and lacked procedures on how employees should handle cash. The agency "did not initially provide accurate financial statements," according to city auditor Robert L. McCarty. The agency could not figure out why its records did not match city accounting and payroll numbers, he said, and later "developed separate financial statements."

The audit also established baseline numbers for revenue, expenditures, assets and liabilities for the agency.

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"I believe the audit process is critical to the agency's growth," Ernest Burkeen, the city's director of Recreation and Parks, said Tuesday. "Audits help us understand where we are currently and identify the steps necessary to move forward."

Advocates have been calling for a financial audit of the department since 2010, saying it is one of several city agencies that haven't had a complete audit in decades. In 2012, voters approved a charter amendment that requires the city to audit 13 key agencies, including Recreation and Parks, every four years.

The Recreation and Parks audit is the only one of those 13 reviews that city auditors, who report to Comptroller Joan Pratt, have completed thus far.

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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