Audit likely of Mississippi Valley Conservancy


LA CROSSE, Wis. — There’s questions surrounding the finances of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy and the organization could be the focus of an audit soon.

The MVC works as the city of La Crosse’s agent in the La Crosse Bluffland Protection program, taking funding from both the city and private donors to buy up land.  They then apply for re-imbursement grants from the DNR called Stewardship grants.

A recent city review of the non-profit revealed apparent discrepancies in how money was allocated.   “Categorizing money, to whether it was city money or DNR money or matching-money or land-grant matching money and putting it in the right columns so that the balance of those accounts fit within the guidelines of the DNR stewardship program,” says Steve Carlyon of the La Crosse Parks and Rec Department.

The city shared their information with the Wisconsin DNR and the DNR found discrepancies as well.  La Crosse’s Finance and Personnel committee voted Thursday night to authorize the hiring of a consultant to aid in an audit of the La Crosse Bluffland Protection Program. The DNR says it will share in the cost.

We did speak with Tim Jacobson.  He’s the executive director of the MVC.  He tells us that the MVC has been transparent with both the DNR and the city about where money is coming from and how it is being used since the start of the Bluffland project ten-years ago.   Jacobson calls an audit a waste of taxpayer money since they’ve already provided the city with boxes of paperwork.

The resolution for an audit now goes to the committee of the whole on Tuesday.

Bill Cosh, an agency spokesperson for the Wisconsin DNR, released a statement on the Stewardship Grant audit, “The DNR takes our oversight of Stewardship dollars very seriously; this is an important program that is a foundation of our quality of life and economy now and in future generations. At this point we are not certain if there is any wrongdoing. However, the discrepancy in accounting does raise a red flag that needs to be closely analyzed. We are freezing all grants to MVC until this situation is addressed to our satisfaction. These are public monies and the public needs to be assured they are properly spent. These projects were a cooperative effort involving the State and the city. We will work together to provide a full accounting. An audit will be done. Our desire is to continue the good work of this program, while assuring that appropriations are properly spent without excessive redtape.”