Statement by Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes:
The Mercer County Park Commission and the Friends of Mercer County Parks have been the topic of recent news stories resulting from an investigation launched by the State Attorney General. Although I cannot comment on the nature or status of that investigation, I have read the news reports and comments and they have caused me great concern. There are several key items that need to be addressed.
Mercer County Government upholds and adheres to the highest standards of transparency and ethics and I expect those standards to be met by each and every Mercer County employee and board member.
Mercer County boasts the finest parks in New Jersey and we are extremely proud of our award-winning park system that draws more than 2 million visitors each year and hosts high-profile events including Olympic Rowing Trials, NCAA Rowing, NJ Triathlon, concerts, fairs, festivals and more.
The Friends of Mercer County Parks, a nonprofit organization, was created to support Mercer County Park Commission events such as those stated that have a positive impact on the economy and quality of life of Mercer County. This is an organization that is doing great things for the Mercer County park system by helping to fund events and training above and beyond the Park Commission’s budget, thereby lessening the burden on our taxpayers.
Although there are no allegations of impropriety by any individual associated with either the Mercer County Park Commission or the Friends of Mercer County Parks, I am calling for immediate action.
I will be meeting tomorrow with the leadership of those entities to address my concerns.
Even though there was an audit performed by Friends of Mercer County Parks in 2015, I am requesting that a second comprehensive audit be conducted to confirm the findings and provide recommendations.
Finally, I will request the implementation of any recommendations for improvements found through the audit.
Again, the award-winning Mercer County park system is the crown jewel of this county and is by far the best park system in the state. I will ensure the Mercer County Park Commission and all entities related to our park system uphold the ethical standards that are hallmarks of my administration and that are expected by the taxpayers of this great county.