State Auditor Says KY Fish & Wildlife Needs "Change In Culture" After Special Examination
Report Details 11 Findings & Recommendations For Cabinet and KDFWR Leadership
Darren Doyle, story and photo:
On December 18, 2018, State auditor Mike Harmon released the results of a special examination by his office of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) for the past several fiscal years. Auditor Harmon’s office began the examination of KDFWR after receiving a letter from Don Parkinson, Secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet asking for a special examination of the agency, which is part of the cabinet. The report details 11 findings and recommendations for the cabinet and KDFWR leadership.
“The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources promotes the agency that receives no General Fund tax dollars. But given that a large portion of their funding comes from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, along with federal grants, which are funded by taxpayers, our exam details the greater need for KDFWR to act in a responsible and transparent fashion in following state laws and regulations when it comes to the use of these dollars,” said Auditor Harmon. “Our exam finds many past and current problems at KDFWR, and that a change in culture is needed.”
In Fiscal Year 2017, KDFWR received more than $70 million in funding. In fiscal year 2016, 57 percent of their revenue came from license sales for fishing and hunting and boating registrations, and 35 percent came from federal tax dollars through grants.
Edmonson County Clerk Kevin Alexander said that over the past year, local boat registration fees have doubled in some cases. "The information that KDFWR gave us said that the reason for the increases was that costs had not been adjusted since 2002," said Alexander. "They said that rates here were far lower than surrounding states and the increases would bring Kentucky rates to the average of those other states."
Among the 11 findings detailed in the exam released by Auditor Harmon’s office are:
Locally, Clerk Alexander also noted that his office was notified by KDFWR that the increased rates would help fund boater related programs, allow more maintenance to free boat ramps and parking areas, fund new boat ramps in high need areas, fund Asian Carp control, and increase boater safety resources.
Alexander also said there were increases in some hunting and fishing licenses.
In response to Auditor Harmon’s examination, Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Don Parkinson said, “Thank you very much for the work of your team. The Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet supports and embraces the general findings and recommendations of this audit, which reinforce our determination that KDFWR’s culture must change, and its transparency, accountability, and responsiveness must dramatically improve.”
The full report, along with the separate Fiscal Year 2017 audit of KDFWR, can be found on the auditor’s website.
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