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Bettis Park concession stand sales provide more questions that answers

A Column by the Editor
web posted July 15, 2009
COLUMN – As I continue to dig into the county recreation department as a whole, I become more frustrated over the lack of answers and lack of accountability when it comes to the (not so mobile) mobile concession stand at Bettis Park and where all the cash money goes. First known fact, the cash money taken in by the county owned “mobile” concession stand at Bettis Park does not go to the county. We paid almost $70,000 for it, we pay for its maintenance, we pay the power and operating costs, and get not one red cent in return. According to information received, “it just happened” to turn out that way.

As Saturday Night Live’s Dana Carvey “Church Lady” might say, isn’t that special?

A visit to Bettis Park (aka Edgefield County Park) on Tuesday found the mobile concession stand with four flat tires (at least the tires were on it this time) and the tongue used to pull the trailer removed. Oh, and the air conditioner was running inside though there are no summer sports taking place at the park. Who cares, it’s just someone else’s money paying for it… yours and mine.

According to one source, the concession stand is run and operated by the Mt. Canaan Church Association during football games, but there is no accounting or formal agreement found and no paper trail of receipts or deposits with the county, supported by the current and past county budgets.

Recreation Director Nick Wates said at a County Council meeting earlier this year that the stand is run by the wives of the coaches during games and the money is used to fund the purchase of equipment. However, there are no receipts and no revenues shown to support such a claim. In addition, the county budget provides for $49,250 for uniforms and equipment. (A similar excuse has been provided for the use of “gate fees” which will be discussed at a later time.)

The county budget of FY 2005-2006 showed revenues from concession sales at $25,000 and is noted in a letter obtained by then Edgefield County Administrator Wayne Adams dated March 28, 2005. That was when the recreation program was still in its infancy and did not produce near the participation and attendance championed by the county today.

It is safe to say that with the increase in youth participation so widely touted, sales from concessions (and gate fees) should also have risen. However, revenues from the concession sales are zero, and have remained so for at least two years though the stand is operated at every county sponsored recreation event.

Edgefield County Ordinance No. 04-05-557 clearly states, “Revenues shall include, but not be limited to, registration and concession proceeds, admission charges, and contributions from business, other governments, and nonprofit entities.”

In Section IV, “…The Director shall submit to the county administrator an itemized budget, inclusive of all revenue sources and amounts…”

Yet no receipts, no deposits, and no accountability for “concessions” in Bettis Park are available. In fact, the only concession revenues recorded by the county are from basketball games where there is no freestanding concession stand.

There are serious problems here and serious money involved. Money that, according to county ordinance, is due the county taxpayer and, as such, must be accounted for. 

But where does the blame lie in this completely sorted mess?

Top of the list is County Administrator John Pettigrew followed by County Recreation Director Nick Wates, both of whom are overseen by the Edgefield County Council. The County Council codified in law what would happen to revenues, it is up to Pettigrew and Wates to adhere to those laws. It is also incumbent upon the county council members to ensure their employee (i.e. Pettigrew) is doing his job.

The simple fact of the matter is, money is being made from a county owned, county provided, county operated and maintained concession stand, that operates at county sponsored events, at a county operated park that charges for entry, and not one single penny can be accounted for.

As additional information is provided from the county it will be made public.

I again request a full audit of the concession sales, all activity at Bettis Park, and the County Recreation Department as a whole.


Show me the money
web posted July 9, 2009

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