Speakers at Wednesday’s Franklin County Commissioners meeting showed support for the TRAC event center in the wake of a harsh performance audit.
Commissioners heard a review of the audit, which criticized the west Pasco facility for management deficiencies, including risk management, strategic planning, budgeting and financial operations.
Butch Wiswall, a longtime TRAC advocate, presented commissioners with a list of suggested focal points for 2015.
Commissioners should agree on what the facility’s actual financial expectations are and stop implying that the building’s future is in question, Wiswall said.
He also suggested finding a business to buy naming rights and putting more resources into sales.
“It was put there for the county because this is an agricultural county,” Wiswall said. “We don’t go out there to watch ballet. Why can’t we support this for the county? I don’t see the need to ding and ding the people that are trying to make it work.”
Jeff Losey, who puts on two events a year as executive director of the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities — the Regional Home & Garden Show and Fall Home Show — said there is not a lot to fix at TRAC.
“It’s a great facility for everybody to have in the Tri-Cities,” Losey said.
But the audit suggested improvements are needed, including a long-term capital plan and an employee committee to tackle issues. It called the facility’s strategic planning and lack of a policy to assess business risk “unsatisfactory.”
“This is just a starting point for Franklin County and TRAC to go forward,” said Nancy Jones of consulting firm CliftonLarsonAllen, which conducted the audit.
“In the process of going through the recommendations, you may determine that there are needs other than what we recommended,” she said.
It will be up to the county and Pasco, which share the costs for TRAC, to determine how exactly to implement the recommendations, said county Auditor Matt Beaton, who recommended the outside audit.
Beaton hopes the entities can work with the community on a mission and vision for the facility, he said.
“It’s going to be a robust discussion, and it’s going to take a while,” he said.
The private audit was commissioned for $50,000 after a State Auditor’s Office report faulted the facility for its management of cash machines.
Decisions like whether to have a private management company operate TRAC will be among those that could come up in the future, Beaton said.
CliftonLarsonAllen representatives spoke with a number of TRAC stakeholders in putting together the report, Jones said.
The report says the TRAC Advisory Board, a committee comprised of citizens and city council members, was consulted. But Dave Beach, who was recently forced to resign from the board when he moved out of Franklin County, disputed that.
“I thought we were going to be included,” Beach said after the meeting. “We keep hearing that. It’s very disenfranchising.”
Jones declined to talk to the Herald, but Beaton told Beach that the advisory board would be consulted in future discussions.
TRAC has been without a general manager since Troy Woody resigned April 10 to focus on his solar business. An advertisement for the position was placed on the county’s website earlier this week, with an annual salary range between $81,660 and $109,434. The higher number was Woody’s salary.
The report will be taken into consideration as the county seeks to fill both the TRAC position and find a new county manager, commission Chairman Brad Peck said.
“I’m pretty confident the county is going to be looking for the skill set necessary to implement this in both of these positions,” he said.