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After watching a recent city of Galveston City Council workshop session that centered on the Park Board’s finances, I did some digging. I went directly to the Park Board website and searched for some of our financial records.
Even though I knew that our budgets, financial statements, and reports were all there, I realized that they were in various places on the site — in agenda packets and other spots. So, our team quickly created a single page on our website where these documents can easily be found.
The page is called the Financial Transparency page. Here, visitors can see documents relating to the Park Board’s finances, plus reports like the Annual Report and the Economic Impact of Tourism Report. It’s located in the Departments section under Accounting.
The page also includes a monthly report, “Island Times.” It highlights the organization’s achievements, benchmarks, key indicators, and more.
Creating this page is another way our organization aims to be transparent with the public. Our meetings are open to anyone who wishes to attend, we welcome public comment on issues important to those we serve, meeting minutes are transcribed and recorded for reading and listening — they, too, are located on our website. And, every year, the Park Board invites the public to a budget workshop to learn about the funds the organization manages.
The Park Board manages an operational budget of more than $18 million with 13 unique funds, including tourism development, beach cleaning, beach patrol, debt service, grants, beach nourishment, sand replenishment, and general administration.
Our website is a valuable resource for information in addition to financial records and meetings minutes. It also contains information about the work of our citizen-led committees including Tourism Development, Beach Maintenance, East End Lagoon, and Parks and Amenities. A schedule of these meetings, also open to the public, can be found there, too. You can also sign up to automatically receive notifications from the organization.
“Sometimes we have to step back and view areas of our organization from a different perspective,” Park Board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said. “It definitely makes sense to put these important documents all together to facilitate access to them. I think the new Financial Transparency page will do a lot to increase the public’s understanding of how the Park Board operates.”
Park board meetings are typically held at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesdays of the month at 601 23rd St.
Mary Beth Bassett is the public relations coordinator for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Park Board of Trustees.