Audit: Parks maintenance spending needs focus

The splash pad at Raymond Park in Southeast Portland. June 5, 2013 (Portland Parks & Recreation)
The splash pad at Raymond Park in Southeast Portland. June 5, 2013 (Portland Parks & Recreation)

A new audit of city parks maintenance says that Portland Parks & Recreation doesn’t have an adequate understanding of whether its maintenance practices are efficient and effective.

The 64-page audit, released Wednesday by the city auditor’s office, makes five recommendations to the bureau: Set clear expectations to evaluate maintenance efforts; place more emphasis on maintenance during planning, design and construction; ensure that maintenance data is better managed and used in decisions; perform more reactive than preventive maintenance efforts; and use more robust performance measurements to evaluate maintenance efforts.

“We recommend that parks focus on feedback mechanisms to help ensure achievement of intended results and continuously improve maintenance efforts throughout the parks system,” according to the audit. “Full implementation of our five recommendations will be of particular importance should the city ask voters to approve additional funding for parks.”

In 2012, the Parks Bureau estimated the value of its system at $1 billion.

City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade asks for a status report in one year, though the commissioner in charge. Commissioner Amanda Fritz now oversees the bureau, succeeding Commissioner Nick Fish.

Parks Director Mike Abatte says he generally agrees with the recommendations, and that the bureau has already begun to address the issues despite having to reduce general fund spending during the past five years due to budget shortfalls.

“Portlanders have invested in their parks system over the last century through a series of legacy investments,” Abatte writes. “PP&R’s job now is to leverage all knowledge and strategies to maintain it and grow it for the next generation.”

To read the audit click here.

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