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Management audit calls for major reforms
in Department of Recreation and Parks

By Aldrich M. Tan

April 11, 2006

Recreation & Parks Department representatives assured the Government Audit and Oversight Committee that they are working towards achieving the recommendations of a budget analyst management audit of the department launched in May 2005.

The detailed audit made 169 recommendations to the department which would result in increased revenue of $1.5 mil. and a one-time savings of approximately $141,619, budget analyst Harvey Rose said.

The Recreation & Parks Department agreed with all but seven recommendations and is in the process of implementing 68 of them, general manager Yomi Agunbiade said.

The Government Audit and Oversight Committee requested to see a follow-up report on the department's improvements in four months, Supervisor Tom Ammiano said.

"It was a very thorough audit and there are some serious issues involved in it," he said.

The department struggles to live with its current budget and suffers from a lack of management oversight, budget analyst Severin Campbell said.

The Department faces a funding shortfall of $589 mil in its Capital Program, which combines multiple funding sources to help construct and improve various park facilities, Campbell said. It also lost more than $140,000 in fee revenues from the last year's World Golf Championship.

As requested by the audit, the Recreation & Parks Department is expanding its management team and will be hiring two more manager positions including a director of partnerships and resource development, Agunbiade said.

The department is prioritizing other audit recommendations, Agunbiade said. It has hired 19 new gardeners and created a two-week teambuilding curriculum program for the gardeners. It is also partnering with the Department of Children, Youth and their Families to improve programming at five pilot recreation centers and clubhouses.

"We agree pretty much with everything in the document," he said.

The department disagreed with the auditor's recommendations on its deal with Kemper Sports Management.

The management company operates the Harding Park and Fleming Golf Courses and borrowed $969,640 under their loan agreement. Kemper Sports Management had refused to provide the budget analyst with copies of applicable loan documents, the audit reported.

Kemper Sports Management recently submitted documentation to the department, Agunbiade said. Concerning this issue, the management audit recommended that the Board of Supervisors adopt an ordinance that requires the Board to approve all leases and management agreements by City department to make the City responsible for payment of any loans made under the lease and management agreement.

Supervisor Ammiano said he was concerned about the department's allocation of recreation and aquatic staff resources. The audit reported that recreation centers, such as the Oceanview Recreation Center, had been overstaffed while custodial resources were understaffed.

The audit recommended the department to assign 30 evening custodians. But the department's ability to implement the requested positions will depend on if the resources are available, Agunbiade said.

"The budget analysts assumed that it would be easy to delete staff for a few custodians," he said.

The department will continue to assess its core recreation programs within the next six months and then develop a staff allocation plan, director of operations Dennis Kern said.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said he was concerned about the department's permit and revenue management. The department did not collect previous fees for including five events managed by commercial promoter Events West, according to the audit.

"That was real money," he said, concerning one reported incident. "A radio station hosting a commercial event should be responsible for paying to be able to use that park."

Agunbiade said that permit reviews are redirected to Kern, who will also be leading a discussion on April 20 on how the department sets up its fees.

Public input is still lacking in the park's efforts, said Isabel Wade, executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council, an organization that represents 129 local park groups.

Wade said that she asked similar questions at a special hearing two weeks ago and received answers that were not as detailed as today's committee hearing.

"It's critical of how involved the public is in regards to how this public space is run," she said.

Nancy Wuerfel, a district four representative of the Park, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Committee, agreed with Wade.

“I’ve learned more today about what has happened in the Recreation & Parks Department than in the last six months of attending PROSAC meetings,” she said.

Agunbiade said communication has been one of the department’s biggest problems. The department is developing a planning division that will work with PROSAC.

"We go to the community at the time when a decision is made," he said. "That needs to change."




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