Audit cites spending, accounting trouble in parks |

Audit cites spending, accounting trouble in parks

DENVER ” An audit says the Colorado Division of Parks failed to properly account for millions of dollars and misspent tens of thousands more, including hiring an $800-an-hour comedian and overpaying for food.

The audit, released Monday, said $9.4 million hadn’t been properly accounted for. Officials found that most was spent on land purchases but $600,000 remains unaccounted for.

Auditors questioned more than $2 million in payments.

They said the division paid $43,000 for food and $6,100 for entertainment, including the comedian, during a three-day training session. Auditors said the food cost about double the state’s standard allowance.

The audit found that two employees were allowed to commute in state vehicles for more than 3 1/2 years at a cost to the state of about $40,000, but the benefit wasn’t reported as taxable income on their W-2 forms.

Auditors also said division staff members were allowed to use furnished cabins at one state park for themselves, friends and state vendors, booking them before the public could.

“This is the most egregious waste of money and resources I’ve seen in my four years on the audit committee,” said Sen. David Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs.

Mike King, deputy director of the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the parks division, says the department takes the findings “extremely seriously.”

“What needs to be clear is that things approved in the past will no longer be acceptable,” King said.

The audit found the division lacks adequate safeguards on spending funds from Great Outdoors Colorado ” the trust that distributes some state lottery proceeds.

GOCO has given the division $67 million since 2003 for parks’ services and improvements.

Records show that GOCO paid the division $17.8 million in 2003, but division receipts accounted for only $7.1 million.

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