A four-year, state-run audit of the Hancock County Parks and Recreation Board revealed tens of thousands of dollars unaccounted for over approximately three years.
The funding covered payroll, marina expenses and vendor expenses, according to a report released earlier this week.
Like many, we must wonder where the money went, and why none of it apparently showed up on the board's books.
According to the state auditor's report, performed because the board didn't submit its own audit from 2009 to 2012, financial information for the board wasn't even complete, making it even more difficult to perform an audit of the board's activities.
The county park board is being cited, as a result, for poor record keeping, failing to enforce policies for revenue receipts at Kennedy Marina and Campground, neglecting to collect state sales tax at the marina and providing lax oversight of disbursements.
While the board members are volunteers, it is no excuse not to ensure proper record keeping.
Whether it was deliberate or a matter of a series of oversights, we don't know and may never know, but we would hope more supervision of this board and its operations results from these findings.
Even the Hancock County Commission was unaware audits were not being performed. The board had its own accounting firm, which was supposed to perform such reviews. That in itself is a major problem as the county provides a measure of funding - approximately $50,000 a year - from the county's hotel tax. In addition, capital improvements to the facilities usually are covered by the commission.
This is tax-payer money, and it is now gone.
Hancock County Prosecutor Jim Davis said he was unsure what action could be coming in the future over the results of this audit.
We would encourage Davis and the county commission to seriously look at their options and take whatever action is necessary to resolve this issue and make sure it cannot happen again in the future.