A resolution for an independent audit of Playland, the 280-acre amusement park and beach facility owned and operated by Westchester County, received approval Tuesday by the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) Government Operations Committee and will now be set for a full vote at the BOL’s next regular meeting on September 10.
The resolution, which was supported only by the Democratic legislators on the committee, authorizes BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) to employ an independent financial firm to audit and review the actual revenues and expenses of Playland along with the current procedures in place to ensure proper and accurate compilation of the data; and instructs the Budget Director and the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Conservation to provide the professional auditors with all information and documentation requested.
“This is a thirteen million dollar a year business that deserves a full financial and operational audit so that legislators can make informed decisions about Playland’s future,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chair of the BOL Government Operations Committee. “With this in mind, it is entirely prudent that we start planning for an audit right now.”
Last week, Borgia and two of her colleagues—Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), chair of the BOL Budget & Appropriations Committee, and Bill Ryan (D-White Plains), chair of the BOL Legislation Committee—called for an independent audit of Playland because of 'troubling inconsistencies and omissions in the data regarding the park’s attendance and revenue figures being reported by the Astorino Administration' according toa press release from the Board of Legislators office.
The release also cited language in the Westchester County Charter that mandates that the BOL “investigate the official conduct and the accounts, receipts, disbursements, bills and affairs of any office or officer of the county, or of any office or officer of any special county district or other unit of county government, and make such studies or investigations as it deems to be in the best interests of the county,” as well as “employ such...financial or other technical advisers as may be necessary from time to time, in relation to the performance of any of the functions of county government” to bolster their support for the audit.
Last year, the BOL passed an Act mandating that the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Conservation provide weekly reports to the BOL comparing the 2012 Playland attendance and revenue figures with those compiled in the summer of 2011.
The Board of Legislators claim the information provided thus far has been incomplete and sporadically reported. Also, revenue figures that were presented to the BOL do not include substantial profit centers like parking, mini golf and concessions—none of the revenues, in fact, budgeted for in the finally adopted 2012 County Budget outside of ride fees.
“Playland looks better than ever this summer, and it continues to be a fun-filled destination for residents and families from around the region,” said Bill Ryan. “The park’s finances could be stronger, however, and my colleagues on the Board and I need complete financial information to be able to increase revenues at Playland and even further reduce the nominal tax levy support it now receives.”
This post is adapted from a release from the Westchester County Board of Legislators.