June 21, 2004 – An audit of V.I. National Park's concession management and fee collection programs pointed out some problems about $10,000 in collected entrance fees never made it to the bank, tour operators failed to pay about $21,000 in entrance fees and there were unpaid concession permit fees totally almost $60,000.
The report, issued by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General and covering the years 2001 and 2002, indicated the problems had been resolved. Park Superintendent Art Frederick could not be reached for comment.
The audit shows that problems with the concession management, permit programs and fee collection programs cost the park a total of $81,334. Additionally, the audit raised questions about a park employee and a missing $9,061 from the fee collection program. Fee collection program supervisor Genevieve Segura was arrested in December 2003 in connection with the missing money. She no longer works for the park. Assistant U.S. Attorney Azekah Jennings could not be reached Monday for information on her case.
This situation arose, auditors said, because of inadequate controls over fee collections. The auditors looked at the fee collection program books from 1999 to 2002 to find that Segura allegedly made deposits smaller than the money collected a total of 31 times.
After this problem was discovered, the park established internal controls on safe and cash drawer procedures.
Auditors found that the people and companies holding concessions did not pay the park the 50 percent of what it charged their sub concessionaires to operate under their concession agreement as was required. This cost the park $55,660.
Two companies, Caneel Bay Resort and Maho Bay Camps, hold concessions to operate in the park.
Additionally, auditors discovered that tour operators taking cruise ship passengers to Trunk Bay and Annaberg Plantation failed to pay $21,092 in fees, companies that held incidental business permits underpaid by $3,050 and concession fees were underpaid by $1,532.
The park subsequently collected $57,150 of the money it was due for sub concession irregularities from Deutche Bank, which until recently owned Caneel Bay Resort. It initiated action to collect the outstanding $21,092 from tour operators and now sends tour operators a monthly bill. An operator that had a delinquent account more than two years old had his permit revoked in April 2001. As of March 2003, the park was still trying to collect the $16,536 the operator owes the park.
Files were also found to be incomplete and inaccurate, including the fact that some companies had lapsed business licenses and insurance policies.
The park addressed problems with its concession program by hiring a concession management assistant in May 2003. The previous concession management specialist had retired in 1999 so the post was filled first by a volunteer and later by a person in an "upward mobility training program." The lack of experienced people on the job probably caused the problem, wrote the National Park Service's regional office in its response to the audit.
Additionally, the park no longer allows sub concessions.
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