City Controller Alan Butkovitz turned over the results of an audit of the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Advisory Council to the District Attorney this week.
The controller questioned the disbursement of $2 million.
At the Fox Chase Recreation Center, the advisory council, charged with managing the individual recreation center’s bank accounts, could not provide auditors with any accounting records that detailed financial transactions. The former treasurer, Kathleen Goodwin, allegedly never maintained a general ledger for the account, and when she left she took the financial records with her, Butkovitz said.
“We could not even reconcile the account because of how poorly it was managed by the former treasurer,” said Butkovitz. “She was the only signer on disbursement checks, had cancelled checks mailed directly to her home address and even signed checks payable to herself.”
According to the controller the Department of Parks and Recreation was supportive during the audit, but he said there was a lack of cooperation by representatives of the advisory council. After obtaining copies of bank statements for a six-month period, auditors did find a beginning cash balance of almost $187,400 and an ending balance of $117,500. In addition, the controller’s auditors uncovered a computer where it was determined the former treasurer was the sole user of it and no one else had the ability to access her user account.
“This raised our level of skepticism regarding the potential for undetected fraudulent activity involving all of the accounts at the various recreation centers,” Butkovitz said. “We have already referred our findings regarding the former treasurer at Fox Chase to the District Attorney’s Office for further investigation.”
Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann confirmed the investigation.
“We have the information from the city controller and it is being further investigated,” McCann said.
Susan Slawson, a deputy commissioner for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said the investigation did not focus on any employees of her department.
“The information that was turned over to the District Attorney concerned a volunteer who worked at one of our facilities and who worked with the Fox Chase Advisory Council, not one of our employees,” she said. “This was not something that concerned any city employee or anything we did that involved the misuse of funds.”
Butkovitz said even though his auditors were met with resistance from the advisory council, along with Fox Chase, his auditors were able to examine the financial activity at the Vare and Vogt recreation centers. This included finding Vare’s accounting records had no detail to support expenses. In addition, a review of sampled cancelled checks, which included 49 at Vare and 52 at Fox Chase, revealed the checks contained only one Advisory Council officer’s signature instead of two officers’ signatures, as required by the advisory council manual.
“Requiring two signatures assures accountability and reduces the risk of fraud,” said Butkovitz.
Butkovitz said Advisory Council officials and Parks and Recreation management need to improve their oversight of the allotted funds.