With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.
Today's column lays out more details of the Parks and Recreation secret leave buyout program and its connection to the discovery last week of $54 million the department had in two accounts -- even as it was planning to close 70 facilities around the state.
The Department of Finance didn't know about the money, which has been accumulating for at least 12 years, although the State Controller's Office did. Many department managers didn't know about the money either, and they worked to raise private money and build partnerships to keep facilities on the hit list open.
Imagine how the staff who beat the bushes for money and partnerships feel now.
Along with the State Controller's Office and the attorney general, Finance has launched an investigation of the Parks Department's budget, accounts and procedures. As you'll see in the outline below, its audit plan will initially unwind five years of records.
Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said Wednesday that the Parks matter in relation to the state's budgeting process is analogous to a tripped fuse discovered during a home remodeling project.
"You go back and check all the fuses," Palmer said, so the state also is taking a wider look at how departments report their budgets.