by Sean Whaley
Nevada News Bureau

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October 17, 2012
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Two Nevada charitable groups out of compliance for special license plate funds

An annual review of funds distributed to charitable groups from the sales of special license plates has found that the University Medical Center Foundation in Las Vegas failed to provide required documentation on the use of the money, and some information that was provided was inaccurate.

A UMC spokesman said today the deficiencies are being corrected.

The review by the state Legislative Auditor has been submitted to the five lawmakers serving on the Commission on Special License Plates.

In a letter to the lawmakers dated Sept. 28, Legislative Auditor Paul Townsend said UMC was notified of the reporting requirements on July 26, and the facility was contacted three times by phone in September.

"UMC did not respond timely and subsequently submitted forms and records on Sept. 17, 2012," Townsend said in the letter. "Our review found the amount reported in license plate revenues for fiscal year 2012 was inaccurate. UMC reported revenues of $2,574, but state records show $7,943 was sent to UMC. Also the balance sheet provided by UMC did not balance."

Townsend said in an email today that UMC is working on correcting the deficiencies identified in the review.

UMC is to use the money it receives from the new plate to support the development of multi-organ transplantation. It has received $7,943 in special license plate revenues but has not spent any of the funds yet.

Brendan Bussmann, director of community relations at UMC, said the failure to submit the proper documentation was a misunderstanding that is now being rectified. It was the first filing required for the new plate, he said.

"And we're working with them to correct that and get an accurate and amended report to them promptly," he said.

UMC has the only transplant program in the state, Bussmann said. The kidney transplant program currently is beating national averages in outcomes, he said.

"And with the proceeds from this plate, we'll be able to help facilitate some current and future needs for that program and being able to provide support to the community at large that requires transplants," Bussmann said.

He encouraged Nevadans to apply for the special plate.

"I think it is a very cool design and it goes to a great cause," Bussmann said.

The charitable group Horse Power, which was the subject of a review by lawmakers earlier this year, also failed to provide complete information for the September report, including failing to provide bank reconciliations for three consecutive years.

Horse Power is required to use the funds, which totaled just over $108,000 in Fiscal Year 2012, for the benefit of wild horses. The group has received $471,354 from 4,851 special license plates since 1998.

Concerns identified in a May 2012 hearing regarding proper documentation from Horse Power were not entirely resolved with the receipt of further information from the group, Townsend said in the letter.

The group is not receiving new funding from the special plate until the concerns are resolved.

One example is the failure of Horse Power's Board of Trustees to review the compensation paid to Executive Director Sally Summers, listed at $35,580 for calendar year 2011, and make any needed changes. No documents were provided in response to this request.

Townsend said auditors did not identify any evidence of improper practices by the organizations that submitted complete information. The review did not include actual audits of the charitable organizations, however.

State law requires certain organizations receiving revenue from the special license plates to provide the financial information so legislative auditors can determine if there are procedures in place to ensure fees are expended for proper purposes. Governmental entities included in the state's executive budget are exempted from the reporting requirements.

Nevada's special license plate program has generated significant revenues over the years.

The 34 types of special plates listed in the audit, from support of the Atomic Testing Museum to Nevada Ducks Unlimited and Friends of Red Rock Canyon, are now on 206,932 vehicles and generated nearly $4.4 million in 2012. Since 1998, the plates, which have been produced at different times, have generated just over $37 million.

The 12 state agencies receiving funds that are exempted from the reporting requirements include the Department of Wildlife and volunteer fire fighters, which report the information in the executive budget.

The Las Vegas Commemorative plate has generated the most revenue, totaling $13.5 million since the city's 2005 centennial. The funds are used to commemorate Las Vegas history, including the restoration of historic buildings.

The license plate to support environmental work at Lake Tahoe has generated $5.5 million since 1998.

The variety of special license plates to support Nevada's veterans home have generated nearly $3.6 million since they were first offered, including $514,803 in 2012.

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The Record Courier Updated Oct 18, 2012 09:43AM Published Oct 17, 2012 11:07PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.