Park District tries to rebound after scandal leads to massive restructuring
Nearly nine months after a scandal rocked the Kankakee Valley Park District, leading to the indictment of its top executive and the layoff of virtually its entire staff, appointed Executive Director Dayna Heitz admits righting the ship remains a major challenge.
“The last few month have been busy as we continue to complete audits, implement financial procedures, build the financial software, keep up with current requirements, local, state and federal,” Heitz told the Kankakee Times.
According to Heitz, the city’s maintenance staff is now back on the job, along with a few recreation staffers. She added a number of administrative workers who continued volunteering during the period of the layoffs are also now back on the payroll.
Heitz said many other positions have been eliminated, and the long-term future of Splash Valley Park, closed last summer largely due to disrepair and poor upkeep, remains in question.
“Splash Valley has been deteriorating for some time,” she said. “The facility was closed for the summer of 2016 due to the condition of the facility and expense of operations.”
Around that same time, former Executive Director Roy Collins was indicted on misappropriation charges, which included accusations that he used taxpayer money to build a pond on his private property and sought to cover it up by billing the work to the park district. The scandal was first reported by The Times.
Collins also was charged with using park district equipment and labor and even borrowing a district-owned lawn mower and golf cart to store at his property. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Almost from the day she was appointed by the board of commissioners, Heitz has acknowledged a need to make across-the-board cuts to get the park district’s finances back in order and alter the practice of the park district routinely spending more than it takes in.
During the height of the Collins’ scandal, the city also was denied a bank loan it sought to make payroll and cover other expenses.
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893 West Station Street
Kankakee, IL 60901