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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Use of New York State Snowmobile Trail Development and Maintenance Funds


Issued: January 2, 2013
Link to full audit report 2011-S-5
Link to 90-day response

Purpose
To determine whether the New York State Snowmobile Trail Development and Maintenance Fund is used for its intended purpose.

Background
In 1985, the New York State Legislature required the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (Parks) to prepare a plan to service the snowmobile trail miles in New York State and established the means to fund a statewide snowmobile trail system. In 1989, Parks completed the plan and the use of the New York State Snowmobile Trail Development and Maintenance Fund (Fund) was established to implement a statewide snowmobile program (Program) administered by Parks. Parks is responsible for authorizing payments, monitoring the Program, and planning for the development and maintenance of safe snowmobile trails and facilities. Parks receives State aid from the Fund of about $5 million annually and then distributes funds to approved local sponsors, who administer snowmobile trail services. Trail maintenance entities (TMEs) are responsible for maintaining the trails. Sponsors can function as TMEs and do the trail maintenance themselves, or they can contract with a snowmobile club or association. TMEs generally use volunteers to
groom and maintain their assigned trails.

Key Findings

  • The Herkimer County Snowmobile Association Treasurer falsified documentation and improperly used his dual authority as Association Treasurer and President of a TME to redirect funds from another TME to his own. We referred this matter to the Herkimer County District Attorney's Office for potential prosecution.
  • Eight local sponsors improperly assessed administrative fees on TMEs totaling more than $48,397 for the three years ending March 31, 2011.
  • In contrast to other TMEs reviewed, all of which used unpaid volunteers, Franklin County Snowmobile Association paid its trail groomer operators $79,885 for fiscal years 2009-10 and 2008-09 combined, with pay rates ranging from $12 per hour for groomer operators to $15 per hour for the President and Vice President. In fact, a total of $54,984 of the $79,885 was paid to the Franklin Association's top officers - $23,044 to the President and $31,940 to the Vice President.

Key Recommendations

  • Take corrective action to ensure the affected club received the funds it was entitled to; conversely, recover any improperly-received funds or adjust future payments accordingly.
  • Develop and communicate clear guidance to local sponsors and TMEs about administrative fees being ineligible for Fund reimbursement.
  • Provide stronger Program oversight by assessing the effects that sponsor and TME practices such as using paid groomer operators have on the effectiveness and value provided to the snowmobiling public. Use the results to monitor and communicate about identified risk areas.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

None


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Melissa little
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236