City audit highlights inefficiencies at several city cultural centers

A recent city audit is highlighting some inefficiencies at several city recreation and cultural centers.

The audit looked at the Asian-American Resource Center, the Mexican American Cultural Center, the Carver Museum, and the African-American Cultural and Heritage Facility. "We can do better at meeting community needs," said Corrie Stokes, city auditor.

The Austin City Council requested the audit last year.

There were many key findings.

For one, all but one cultural center had a concrete and updated facilities master plan, and staffing at the African-American Cultural Facility was inadequate. "At the AAHF we could adjust hours to have staff available when people want to use the facility," said Stokes.

The city has not addressed accessibility issues at the centers. For example, there may not be space available for a requesting organization, or the rental price was too high.

This, in turn, creates barriers in the communities these centers serve. "Some of our centers we have outstanding issues that we need to address from an ADA perspective,a transportation perspective and from an available hours perspective," said Stokes.

The audit also looked at the Millenium Youth Complex, a coveted contribution to the East Austin community. Local NAACP President Nelson Linder was asked questions during the auditing process.

"It was created based on a noble idea, for young black people who dont have access to recreation, safe places and spaces, so that center was created to address that concern," said Linder.

The city auditor said the Millenium complex does not have proper oversight to make sure it stays up to par. "The city itself has not done its job in maintaining the facility up to par and also other things. We know there has to be better communication, more resources," said Linder.

Linder said while the big talk of the town is the police budget, there should be more talk of centers like these. "We keep talking about public safety, this is public safety. Our community needs facilities to address our young people," he said.

Stokes said the Parks and Recreation Department has already begun working on parking-related issues at the centers.