Video: Sacramento City Council lambasts Sports Commission after audit reveals mismanagement
The Sacramento City Council had tough words for the Sacramento Sports Commission Tuesday night, taking the organization to task after an audit cited poor management and lack of financial controls as factors in the organization’s failure to pay back $400,000 it borrowed from city.
The city loaned the money to the commission to organize for the World Masters Athletics Championships, a track and field competition for athletes over 35 that was held in Sacramento last year.
Steve Cohn was one of the more critical council members. He said that the issue for him was not that the commission couldn’t pay the money back, but that they had directly violated the loan agreement by failing to keep the city’s funds segregated and only spend the money for its designated purpose – the masters event.
"To ask for a loan, and to agree as part of that loan that the money will not be used for any other purpose, and to find out in the audit it was used for several other purposes does not make me as a council member who is directly responsible to my constituents for tax funds feel at all comfortable," Cohn said. "And I want to underscore the severity of that – that is a very serious situation when we talk about public funds."
A task force comprised of staff from the city, county and the Sacramento Region Sports Education Foundation is working to evaluate structural changes to address the audit’s recommendations, and will report back to the council.
Cohn said he thinks the council should consider the SRSEF’s report, but also keep all options on the table, including making the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau responsible for sports marking.
Council members Sandy Sheedy, Rob Fong and Kevin McCarty all noted that the many of the events the commission had organized had been successful and had contributed to the city’s economy – but they were all also critical, none more than Sheedy, who questioned whether the council should ever give money to the commission again – a troubling suggestion for an organization that receives over half of its budget – $140,000 – from the city.
"I am just really upset about the use of public funds," she said. "We cannot allow this to keep happening, and at some point it needs to stop. The buck stops with us, unfortunately. I would just have a very hard time in giving any more money to this organization – I just needed to say that."
Jared Goyette is the editor of The Sacramento Press