The Indiana State Board of Accounts recently released a report detailing a review of some of the City of Westfield’s finances and found the city did not comply with state laws and guidelines while entering into an informal agreement with Bullpen Tournaments.
Westfield City Council member Troy Patton first expressed concern about a financial discrepancy between Bullpen Tournaments and Grand Park in July after the council learned of an informal agreement between the two parties.
State Examiner Paul Joyce stated in his review that the city did sign an agreement in October 2014 which passed the obligations of Indiana Bulls, Inc. to Bullpen Tournaments. The agreement stated that BPT would then become responsible for “remitting specified allocations of fees collected for admissions, merchandise, and parking.”
According to Joyce’s report, “The City received collections from BPT for event tickets, apparel, electricity, and indoor leasing fees in 2016 and 2017; however, in 2018, 2019, and 2020 BPT only remitted electric and indoor leasing fees.”
The city hadn’t modified the agreement with BPT, and the report claimed that Grand Park Director William Knox said the city had informally agreed to have BPT perform maintenance in lieu of paying the collections designated in the agreement.
“There was not any discussion of this informal agreement or proposal in the minutes of the Common Council, Board of Public Works, Redevelopment Commission or Redevelopment Commission Authority,” the report stated. “We find no authority for the change to the terms of these agreements without the formal approval of a legislative board with authority to contract. Documentation regarding admissions, merchandise sales, and parking revenues received by BPT was not provided, so we could not determine the dollar amount of revenues that should have been remitted to the City for 2018 through 2019.”
An agreement between Bullpen Tournaments and the City of Westfield stated that the entities would share the first $400,000 of admission revenues, and that of revenue received in excess of $400,000, 70 percent would go to Bullpen Tournaments and 30 percent would go to the city. Specifics were not provided for revenue related to merchandise and parking fees. According to the SBA report, Westfield invoiced BPT for the revenues in 2017 and prior. However, documentation was not provided for audit regarding how the city determined the admissions, merchandise and parking fees billed.
The report also found that BPT was to pay rent of $20,412 annually to the city in monthly installments. BPT began paying the $1,701 monthly payments in March 2018, but the sublease was not signed.
“It is unclear based upon the dates in this lease, and conflicting terms if BPT is complying or not, and if the rent being paid is correct,” the report stated.
City of Westfield Director of Communications Vicki Duncan Gardner released the following statement:
“The State Board of Accounts’ findings were part of a simultaneous review of two years. The City was not afforded any opportunity to gain the appropriate knowledge to become compliant. As anyone can recognize, Grand Park is not a typical governmental operation and we strive each day – based on the knowledge we have – to always align with the laws and regulations of this great State. Specific to these findings, we operated based on the guidance of our professionals and instruments authorizing our leadership team to approve Use Agreements for Grand Park. The legal agreements referenced saved Westfield taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. We are constantly seeking ways to enhance the overall experience and operation of Grand Park. Rest assured, we take these findings seriously and will work with all stakeholders to bring remedy and continue to advance our City and Grand Park as a leader in our state, region and country.”
This story will be updated.