Parks board meets for the first time after director resigns amid investigation

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EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT)– The Evansville Parks and Recreation board met for the first time today since Brian Holtz resigned as the department’s director. This comes after the city’s finance department found questionable invoices. Deputy Mayor Steve Schaefer, interim director for the parks department, says the city is keeping the forensic review separate from the park department’s day to day operations so they can keep working.

“We are in the process of engaging a forensic investigator to come through and look at the entire activity of the parks department over the last several months. We are in the process of getting that letter of engagement as we speak and will get that process underway soon,” said Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke. He accepted Holtz’s resignation after the city’s finance department found invoices which are being investigated by Evansville police.

“I don’t see any interruptions. The programs and initiatives that have been ongoing will continue. Just yesterday they had the parks and rec program out at Roberts Park where they have lots of kids. Summer camps are happening, the pools are open,” said Deputy Mayor Steve Schaefer. He is adding interim parks and recreation director to his list of responsibilities. Shaefer says he’s already familiar with the department’s long term vision and projects including the Deaconess Aquatic Center. “As deputy mayor I already help manage department heads and also really involved in the capital projects. So with the Deaconess Aquatic Center, I was already head of the aquatics task force and so I was intimately involved with that project whether it be Roberts Park or other plans future initiatives of the parks department.”

At the parks board meeting, Dirck Stahl, with the city attorney’s office, reminded everyone invoices are typically reviewed before being presented to the board.

“The parks board approval of payroll and vendor claims is based on information provide to it, to the board members, and is subject to review by the controller’s office and by my office,” Stahl explained the claims related to the Deaconess Aquatic Center are reviewed by Garmon Construction Services, making sure work gets done.

Deputy Mayor Schaefer says as the parks department continues to work ongoing projects, the city will be posting the parks and recreation director opening online. After candidates go through the hiring process, someone will be appointed as the new head of the department. There’s no timeline for that process yet.

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