|Public Release Date: September 14, 1994||No. 94-48|
The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund was established by constitutional amendment in November 1988. It provides a long-term permanent and stable source of funding for natural resources. The legislature authorized the first appropriations from the trust fund in 1991. The appropriations, which totaled $14,960,000, were made to nine different agencies and were available for the period July 1, 1991, through June 30, 1993. As of February 28, 1994, the agencies had spent $13,734,398 of the appropriated funds.
As provided in Minn. Stat. Section 116P.04, Subd. 5, the objective of our audit was to determine If trust fund expenditures were made for the purposes provided in the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources budget plan. We selected a sample of departments and individual projects for review. We performed tests of project activity at the Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Education, and the Department of Administration.
Board of Water and Soil Resources Projects
The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) received funding of $2,060,000 for six trust fund projects. We found problems with three of the six projects. The board did not adequately monitor close out of the well sealing project grants. In addition, the board did not have timely written commitments from some landowners for two easement projects.
Department of Natural Resources Projects
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had 16 trust fund projects funded from $5,760,000 in appropriations and $35,000 in grant receipts. We had concerns on three of the eight projects we reviewed at DNR. The department purchased a large amount of equipment at the end of one project. In addition, the department's accounting procedures for one project required much needed improvement. Also, the department did not exercise adequate oversight for one project.
Department of Education Projects
The Department of Education (DOE) had two projects funded from appropriations totaling $830,000. We question the department's allocation of per diem to one project.
Department of Administration Projects
The Department of Administration had two projects funded from $2,100,000 in appropriations. We reviewed one of the projects and found that costs were in compliance with the budget plan.