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Amid criminal probe, audit raises red flags at York City Ice Arena
A recently completed independent audit of York City’s finances found a lack of “appropriate controls and oversight” at the city-owned, York Revolution-managed ice arena.
A separate review by The York Dispatch of hundreds of arena-related documents, obtained through multiple Right-to-Know Law requests, also showed bookkeeping anomalies.
Asked to explain the apparent irregularities in the documents, York Revolution president Eric Menzer declined, citing an ongoing police investigation involving the York City Ice Arena.
The York Dispatch filed the Right-to-Know requests after officials acknowledged in November that police were probing possible employee misconduct at the facility.
The York City Police Department's public police log shows a detective met with city solicitors Jason Sabol and Donald Hoyt on Sept. 5 at City Hall "in regards to a theft that occurred at the York City Ice Rink."
Police Lt. Matt Leitzel confirmed on Dec. 20 that the investigation is ongoing.
Though the arena — which includes two ice rinks — is owned by the city, the facility is staffed by the York Revolution, the local professional baseball team that signed a contract to manage it in 2014.
Menzer has said his organization initiated the police investigation after reporting a concern to the city in late July or early August.
The York Dispatch acquired or reviewed hundreds of documents related to the ice arena — including financial records, hockey club contracts and the termination letter for the former general manager.
Discounts and bills: One of the documents received was the Surface Rental Revenue Recognition Report, which identified groups renting rink time and how much those groups were charged.
Menzer explained that the arena has standard rates based on when a group is renting time. "Peak rates," or times when the rinks are in high demand, have been about $300 per hour since the Revs took over, he said, while "off-rates," when the rinks aren't in high demand, have been lower.
Those rates are determined by the market to maximize profit, he said, though sometimes decisions are made to accept lower rates during times when no one else would be using the rinks, particularly for nonprofit groups.
Decisions to accept lower rates are made on a case-by-case basis by the arena's general manager, according to Menzer.
One group that appears on the report with a discounted rate is "Coach Mike's Camp," which refers to a hockey camp held during the summer by former arena general manager Michael Cleveland.
The report shows the camp used more than 145 hours of rink time since 2014 and was charged about $8,800, for a rate of about $60 per hour.
Asked to explain that particular discounted rate, Menzer told The York Dispatch that he couldn't answer because it would be straying into the ongoing investigation.
Current general manager Mark Skehan added that the amount charged to Coach Mike's Camp for 2017 — nearly $5,000 — has not been paid.
Menzer also cited the police investigation when asked to explain why bills detailing cellphone charges for arena employees included names of two people who were not active employees.
A review of Sprint bills since the Revs took over management of the arena found the company has paid more than $10,500 for cellphones used by arena employees.
Each bill included three names: "Mike" and two others. Menzer confirmed the two others were never arena employees under Revs management, but he declined to elaborate on why their names were on the bills, citing the investigation.
"I don't want to say anything that is going to take away from (the city's) investigation," he said. "The ball is in their court."
Audit: The police investigation had been holding up an audit of the city's finances that was supposed to be complete by the end of September. However, city business administrator Michael Doweary said Friday, Dec. 22, that the audit was completed about three weeks ago.
The audit, which covers 2016, notes that there were not "appropriate controls and oversight" in place for the ice arena.
West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Maillie LLP, which conducted the audit, states in the audit that there was a "lack of segregation of duties and daily checks and balances over the receipt process."
The audit recommends the city meet with the York Revolution to review internal controls of the ice arena.
The city has been paying off — in annual installments of about $600,000 — a $7.3 million bond it guaranteed in 2001 to build the new arena.
That bond, which was set to be paid off in 2021, was refinanced in August to combine it with a separate 2011 bond, and that new bond will now be paid off through 2027, according to Doweary.
The rink hired a new general manager, Skehan, in early November.
Termination: Cleveland, the former general manager, was fired Aug. 25, according to his termination letter, which was among the documents received through The York Dispatch records requests.
The letter informs Cleveland of his termination, but the part explaining why he was fired is redacted because information regarding discipline, demotion or discharge contained in a personnel file is exempt from disclosure, according to the city's Right-to-Know officer, Patricia Siebert.
"This decision has been made on the basis of," the letter reads before showing a blank space above Menzer's signature.
Cleveland, who had served as the arena's general manager since at least 2003, according to York Dispatch archives, still uses the arena as a coach for York Ice Hockey Club.
He could not be reached for comment.
— Reach David Weissman at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.