Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Parks Department Didn't Collect $8.9M in Fees from Concessions

If you have been following the saga of the Red Hook vendors, you know that the main issue is the refusal by the Parks Department to continue issuing temporary use permits to them. Instead, the city is going to put the concession for using the park out for competitive bid. Sounds like a good deal for the city, right?

Perhaps not.

An audit by City Comptroller William Thompson found wide range of problems, not the least of which is that the city failed to collect almost $23.8 million from firms holding concessions and others. (You can view the PDF by clicking here. You can also find the report via Gotham Gazette.) "It is apparent that the agencies do not adequately monitor the parties granted these agreements, as required by the City Charter," the audit concluded. "It appears that as long as these agreements provided revenue to the City, lax or no monitoring occurred from the oversight agency."

The Parks Department, for instance, left $8.9 million it was owed concessions uncollected. Among those that owed the Parks Department money are Shellbank Restaurant Corp. which paid just $48,944 of the $615,586 assessed for its concession in Battery Park, owing $566,642. Izadi Enterprises paid $7,575 on its $96,726 assessment for running a parking lot, leaving $89,151 outstanding. The United States Tennis Association, ended up owing $248,763. Some of the money was repaid after the audits, but the Parks Department is still owed $1.08 million city is still owed more than $7 million overall.

Even the Brooklyn Baseball Corporation LLC, which holds the lease rights to KeySpan Park in Coney Island was found to owe the city $16,602 because it did not report actual turnstile attendance at Cyclones games and at special events. They repaid the city $7,538.

Among the problems the Comptroller's Office found with the concessions programs were underreporting of receipts and poor record keeping.

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