Unexpected Help for California State Parks

State parks in California have recently received an unexpected windfall. Surplus funds in the sum of $54 million were discovered this summer and have been earmarked to be used in a variety of ways to help the struggling park system.

Governor Jerry Brown is working with his legislature to allocate the funds appropriately. The intent is to use these funds to perform much needed maintenance such as water and waste treatment facility repairs. In some instances, parks were on the verge of closing because of the maintenance needs. It is hoped that these funds can prevent such closures by funding the much needed repairs.

The state also intends to use some of the money to set up a matching fund for donations. It is hoped that generous donors will be enticed to support the parks, knowing that their dollars will go even farther with the matching fund amount in place.

The discovery of the surplus has led to some extensive reviews of the accounting practices that allowed this surplus to develop. New procedures are in place and a full audit is being conducted. The Department of Finance’s Office of State Audits and Evaluations is in charge of the audit and investigations are on-going. The misappropriation of funds resulted in the resignation of the Parks Director as well as the dismissal of several senior parks employees.

While it is good news that there is more to spend on parks this year, it is estimated that the state parks have a need for over $1 billion in repairs and maintenance. Governor Brown is promising that the state will implement the right measures to make sure that this type of overage does not happen again.

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