A new probe of financial scandals at the California Department of Parks and Recreation found that officials maintained a hidden cash surplus for as long as 20 years – far longer than previously known.
The investigation by the California state auditor, released Thursday, tracked a surplus going back to 1993 in the State Parks and Recreation Fund, the primary fund that collects and disburses revenue generated by the 278 state parks.
The Bee first reported in July that department officials maintained a secret surplus in this fund which at the time amounted to $20 million. Although the surplus amount varied over time, no evidence has emerged that the money was spent illegally.
High-ranking officials at state parks headquarters stayed quiet about the surplus even as the department moved to close 70 parks, for the first time in history, to achieve state budget savings. The surplus would have been enough to avoid these cuts.