A 24-Year Partnership

On Thursday, August 6, 2020, the City of Pittsburgh issued a retrospective audit of more than 55 agreements and contracts it has made with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy since their public interest partnership began in 1998. 
 
The report yielded a positive conclusion: that the Parks Conservancy has become a trusted and reliable champion of city parks over the past 24 years and has contributed immensely to their development and preservation through its own fundraising and responsible management of city-provided funds.
 
The audit confirms that the relationship between the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has been both productive and efficient, resulting in enhanced park experiences through ongoing capital improvements, maintenance, and programming. As this was the first audit performed since the City and the Conservancy entered into the agreement 24 years ago, it speaks well of both parties that the review was so positive. It also provides added reassurance to our donors that the tens of millions of dollars they have contributed to the parks on our behalf have been thoughtfully and effectively managed.
 
During a press conference to announce the findings, Controller Lamb also referenced Schenley Plaza revenues. Per the agreement between the City and Conservancy, the Conservancy manages and operates this beloved space. The Conservancy is responsible for all costs and expenses associated with the maintenance and operation of Schenley Plaza. Schenley Plaza has historically run at a loss. Any shortfall is covered by Conservancy general operating funds. The Conservancy, as part of a community partnership, raised $13 million to construct the Plaza. The Conservancy works annually to generate enough revenue for Schenley Plaza to become financially self-sufficient.
 
As part of the audit, the City Controller’s Office made nine recommendations to enhance our partnership with the City and we support them all. We also agree with the auditors’ statement that revenues raised by the new parks tax should be directed to underserved communities, as was stipulated in the ballot initiative presented to City voters last fall.
 
  • Read the full audit here.
  • Read the Parks Conservancy's press release in response to the audit findings.
  • Learn more about the many projects, maintenance, and programming the Parks Conservancy helps fund and manage.
  • Read the Parks Conservancy’s equitable investment plan and learn more about park system needs here.
 
As of August 2020, the slight increase in property taxes that voters approved in November 2019 to fund park improvements has yet to be implemented.