For the publisher,
This November, residents of Prospect face a key moment in Prospect’s history. We are presented with the choice of continuing with the current administration which has failed us from a fiscal point of view or of replacing it with a new administration which can arrive with a new perspective and a desire for transparency.
As early as 2014, there had been mismanagement of at least one account, a payroll account. In response to a 2017 survey of transactions made from the salary budget of public works employees to pay external suppliers and non-public public works employees, the only explanation provided by Mayor Robert Chatfield was “human error” . The vague answer makes the answer appear as if the mayor is hiding information. At the very least, it creates mistrust.
Instead of learning from this mistake and putting corrective procedures in place, the mayor campaigned in 2016 against charter revisions that would have put in place financial reforms. How can we trust an administration that refuses to learn from its mistakes and shows no accountability with its tax dollars?
Fast forward to 2020. After at least a year of secrecy, the mayor finally informed city council and the public of the theft of more than $ 250,000 from a payroll account. This theft highlighted the fact that Prospect has been operating for four decades without any financial control or oversight. This was verified in a recent independent risk assessment, which was carried out following the theft. It was only at the insistence of members of the Democratic Council that the risk assessment dates back to 2014.
We know the theft was from a payroll account. Until recently, all payroll was done in-house and was not done by a payroll department. The city has big payroll accounting problems. Unfortunately, the administration chose not to fully cooperate in the risk assessment and did not provide all the requested documents. The report states:
âPayroll: Based on our review of the payroll process, we noted the following:
The City was unable to provide payroll records for individual pay periods detailing gross salaries, deductions and withholding taxes. In addition, we have not received any evidence of a review of payroll records by anyone independent of payroll processing.
Two of the selected pay samples were related to overtime for hourly paid employees. One timesheet was not provided and for the other timesheet there was no evidence of review and approval.
In the risk assessment, eight of the ten areas audited are considered high risk. The report revealed major flaws in the administration of the financial responsibilities of this mayor.
The Republican response was made clear at the city council meeting on September 7, 2021.
Megan Patchkofsky, Board Member: âThe confusion with the policies and procedures is that the policies and procedures document was not in place for the period they investigated. ” Truly? Do they complain that it’s not fair to judge their policies and procedures because they don’t have them?
Collector Anne Marie Burr on the report’s observation that reconciliation of tax receipts and deposits was not provided: âThere was nothing documented for the policies and procedures of the tax office during the course. for the period 2014-2019; there was no written document. Again, the rationale for the lack of policies is that there were no policies.
City Council President Jeff Slapikas: âWe know what happened. Bank accounts have not been balanced for a year. Well, at least it’s finally recorded. This summarizes the policies and procedures in place for 44 years.
We can no longer trust this administration. Is this how residents expect their tax dollars to be protected? The total loss resulting from the theft was approximately $ 500,000 in tax dollars, including the theft, legal fees and the cost of the risk assessment. Taxpayers’ money has been wasted due to the incompetence and complacency of the administration. This administration let the residents down. Residents deserve a mayor who doesn’t just protect taxpayer dollars and Prospect’s future. Challenger to Democratic Mayor Kevin O’Leary has the knowledge, vision and energy to devote to Prospect. It will protect taxpayer dollars and the future of Prospect. Vote on line âAâ.
The writer is a member of the Prospect Democratic Town Committee.