Exec. Dir. of MVC defends organization’s finances

LA CROSSE, Wis.–  The Mississippi Valley Conservancy could be the focus of a joint audit by the city of La Crosse and the Wisconsin DNR soon. 

As we told you Thursday, 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 for preservation.  They then apply for re-imbursement grants from the DNR called Stewardship grants.    A recent review of the non-profit revealed apparent discrepancies in how stewardship money was allocated.  The DNR released this statement:  “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…an audit will be done.”

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.  The Executive Director of the MVC says with administration changes both in city hall and in Madison not everyone is aware of how the program functions.

He adds the dispute is over how the MVC interprets some accounting rules, but there is no question that the money was used for land preservation.  He says the MVC is very open to working with the city and the DNR to get any issues resolved.

“We don’t believe an expenditure of money for doing a formal audit is necessary.  Our books have been open, we’ve been handing over boxes of documents about the ten-years of land transactions we’ve been doing with the program.  We want all the facts to come to light because we’re convinced that when these new parties that are involved, once they understand how the program worked and how it was administered, that everything will be cleared up,” says MVC Executive Director Tim Jacobson.