Given the difficulty the Galveston City Council and the Galveston Park Board of Trustees have had hammering out an interlocal agreement, the professional way the city audit of the park board’s finances was conducted is commendable.

The city found no wrongdoing by the park board, according to the first of two city reports on an audit of the board over a complaint claiming misuse of hotel occupancy tax revenues to pay bonuses to salespeople who lure events to the island.

The city launched an audit in April into the park board’s use of hotel tax money for payment of commissions, bonuses, pay incentives and payroll after receiving an anonymous tip in March.

The park board uses hotel occupancy tax to maintain island beaches and promote Galveston tourism.

After almost three months of investigation, the city auditor’s office released a report last week that concluded the bonuses given to some Galveston Convention & Visitors Bureau employees are proportionate to other visitors bureaus of comparable size, according to the report.

There is another complaint against the park board, although we suspect that it could go as smoothly as the first part of the audit.

The interlocal agreement is another matter, however.

Although both sides said they are making progress, the agreement — in discussion since last fall — has not be finalized. The document is meant to consolidate years of agreements between the two governmental entities and clarify the relationship between the city and the park board, which oversees island beaches and promotes tourism.

When the original document was presented by the city to the park board, many of the board’s trustees felt the tone was too harsh.

“It was written as if we were doing something wrong and when we started meeting with the city, they were very adamant that they didn’t think we were doing anything wrong,” park board attorney Carla Cotropia said in a March story in The Daily News.

The park board already complies with state laws and manages properties according to its rules and standards, she said.

It wasn’t the intention of the city to imply that the park board isn’t effective, City Manager Brian Maxwell said in the same story.

However, he said while the park board was adhering to state law, the city council had the right to impose more restrictive limits on how the park board operates if it chooses.

Let’s hope the two sides can agree on those limits sooner, rather than later.

• Dave Mathews

Dave Mathews: 409-683-5258; dave.mathews@galvnews.com

(2) comments

Bailey Jones

No wrong doing, or just that any wrong doing is "proportionate to other visitors bureaus of comparable size"?

Raymond Lewis

Actually, the report said, bonuses, when given were given "proportionate to other visitors bureaus of comparable size". It's common practice for individuals at CVBs in just about every city to be awarded bonuses for reaching their goals of attracting conventions and visitors. Wrong doing and 'proportionate' were not linked together as you unintentionally (I'm sure) did.

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