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City Releases Audit On Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy After Voters Approved Raising Property Taxes To Fund Parks

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - An audit of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has been released after voters approved raising property taxes to fund parks in the city last fall.

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, a non-profit partner of the City of Pittsburgh, spearheaded the referendum to help 165 public parks. The non-profit estimated those parks are in need of $400 million worth of repairs.

City council requested the audit after the vote.

"The Parks Conservancy has been an organization that has done great things for many of our City's parks over the years," said City Controller Michael Lamb in a press release.

"However our audit of the Conservancy has brought to light some concerns that need to be addressed. Among those are the City's relationship with the Conservancy regarding Schenley Plaza in Oakland and the lack of a central location for any agreements the City has with the Conservancy."

Auditors found that all revenue from rentals and fees at Schenley Plaza in Oakland go to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. The city, which "provides routine landscaping," receives no money from the plaza. Since 2004, the city has been leasing that land to the conservancy for $1 a year.

The conservancy issued a response to the audit, saying:

"Per the agreement between the City and Conservancy, the Conservancy manages and operates this beloved space. The Conservancy is responsible for all costs and expenses associated with the maintenance and operation of Schenley Plaza, which has historically run at a loss. Any shortfall is covered by Conservancy general operating funds. The Conservancy works annually to generate enough revenue for Schenley Plaza to become financially self-sufficient."

Another concern is a lack of centralized locations for any agreements or contracts, which the audit says aren't housed in one city office.

"While many of the contracts and agreements reviewed for this audit do not have city funds involved, all contracts and agreements between the City and another entity must be sent to the Controller's office for placement in our contract database," said Lamb.

"This provides transparency and a central storage location. Contracts between the City and the Parks Conservancy are now available to the public via OpenBook Pittsburgh our contracts database."

You can read the full report on the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy online.

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