Augusta commissioners approve audit of Parks and Recreation Department

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta leaders are preparing to pry open the books at the Recreation and Parks Department.

“It’s an operational financial audit. I think we continue to get questioned in the media about things and how operations are being run. I think this is a great start,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.

Augusta commissioners voted 6 to 4 to hire auditors to do a deep dive into the finances of several Parks and Recreation department programs.

This comes after former Director Maurice McDowell resigned under pressure in February.

“Where transparency is concerned, we should do what we need to do so that all our dollars are accounted for. Transparency is something I think this government can do a better job at,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.

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Some commissioners say what is needed is a more in-depth forensic audit that looks for criminal activity.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve had issues with Parks and Rec. Like I say, I don’t want to point the finger that they are doing something wrong. Something is up when numbers don’t add up,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight.

Others saying a forensic audit could be approved later if needed.

“Not a forensic audit on the first go around. I think we would probably be able to find one way or another whether there were some things done or not,” said Commissioner Alvin Mason.

Right now, commissioners do not know the cost of this audit, but it’s not in the 2024 budget.

“I think the community fully supports getting it done. If we have to take it out of reserves, we have to take it out of reserves, but we just have to get it done,” said Frantom.

But for now, commissioners have approved getting the audit started.

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