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Parks audit recommends modest changes to increase transparency

La Crosse, Wis. (WXOW) – An audit of the La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department recommended some modest improvements to increase transparency.

The council approved a $30,000 external audit from Wipfli last year. Wipfli, an accounting and consulting firm,  presented those findings in a special council meeting Thursday night. It showed some extra funds were moved between several parks projects without concrete policies to track those shifts. It also raised questions of how to guarantee that major projects relying on private donations do not fall short and shift burdens onto taxpayers.

Council President Martin Gaul said the audit shows how a system that has existed for decades can manifest some of those issues.

[The system has] worked well,” Gaul said. “In this particular instance, we seem to have gotten a little bit off the rails with the transparency of the projects and that sort of thing. Now we’re going to take the opportunity to clean that up.”

Fellow Council Member Gary Padesky voted against the external parks audit last year. Though he admits it will help the city achieve better transparency, he stands by that vote.

[The audit] did find a few things as far as the transparency that a lot of people on council are happy about,” Padesky said “But I think we could have done it in house and we could have saved the taxpayers $30,000 dollars. That’s just my opinion.”

Council President Gaul said the report could help set a precedent for shoring up transparency in all departments moving forward.

MORE: Mayor Kabat responds to park audit

Sam Shilts

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