tree trust fund - october 2020
Tree Trust Fund
Released October 2020
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We undertook this audit to assist City Council in evaluating revisions to the Tree Protection Ordinance. We reviewed financial records and interviewed City Planning and Parks and Recreation staff to determine what controls are in place to ensure that the city is collecting tree removal fees and spending as defined in city code
between fiscal year 2009 through 2019.
Our recommendations to the commissioner of City Planning are to improve the financial oversight of the Tree Trust Fund.
- The department overspent almost $2.5 million on salaries, benefits, and operational expenses from the fund between fiscal year 2009 and fiscal year 2019.
- The Tree Protection Ordinance, which outlines allowable expenditures, states that City Planning is authorized to spend $170,000 on salaries and benefits each fiscal year.
- Improving financial oversight and available data could result in a more accurate estimate of revenues and strengthen the city’s ability to mitigate tree loss.
- Based on tree loss estimates from the tree canopy study, trees may have been illegally removed without the department’s knowledge.