Park maintenance lacks oversight

Glendale could be overpaying for park landscape maintenance because the city lacks adequate oversight controls, according to a recent internal audit.

The audit said the contractor hired by the city, Parkwood Landscape Maintenance, doesn’t submit a weekly work schedule for proper monitoring, which means the firm could be paid for services that aren’t rendered.

This “increases the risk that contractor’s performance is not effectively monitored and that invoice deductions are not made for work not performed,” the audit stated.

Parkwood Landscape Maintenance currently has a nearly $1.5-million contract with the city through December 2012.

By the end of next month parks officials will be requiring Parkwood to submit maintenance schedules and to notify the city when scheduled work is not completed, according to the report to the Audit Committee.

Better documentation of Parkwood services will also help officials determine if the same work can’t be done at a lower cost by the city — an option brought up by the City Council when it renewed the contract on Dec. 20.

“It’s a good start,” said Community Services & Parks Director Jess Duran, adding that the cost-benefit analysis will take time.

The department has already scaled back on the frequency of maintenance operations due to budget cuts and reduced staffing. Glendale Parks Services Administrator Gary Marello said in October at a City Hall presentation that people should expect some parks to look less manicured.

Duran said that even with all the changes, customer service is still an important factor. However, the audit noted there’s room for improvement there, too. That’s because there is no centralized record of complaints or service requests, which could impede timely follow-up.

To rectify that problem, officials will require signs to be posted in all parks with a phone number for complaints, which will be logged into a centralized system, by June.

In addition, parks officials must begin consistently documenting playground equipment inspections, according to the report.

“Failure to properly document daily playground inspections increases the risk that the playground inspections are not performed and increases the city’s liability in the event that playground equipment is found to be malfunctioning,” the audit stated.

Of 72 playgrounds, 34% did not have daily or weekly inspections performed and 29% did not have any inspections documented, according to the report. Six playgrounds, or 8%, had more inspections than required.

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