Resident Friends of Prospect: This November marks a pivotal moment in the history of Prospect. 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 the desire to be transparent.
As early as 2014, there had been mismanagement of at least one account, a payroll account. In response to the investigation, the only explanation provided by the mayor 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 finally 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, at a minimum, more than a quarter of a million dollars from, yes, a payroll account. This theft highlighted the fact that Prospect has been operating for 44 years without any financial control or oversight. This was verified in the risk assessment by the independent Bonadio group hired by the town hall as the first step in the theft investigation. 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 payroll accounts. 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. The Bonadio Group said that the town hall had not provided all the requested documentation. We read in their report:
“Pay: 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. “
According to the Bonadio Group, 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 September 7 city council meeting.
– Megan Patchkofsky (Board Member, in response to lack of procedures) “The 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?
– Anne Marie Burr (tax collector, in response to the observation in the Bonadio report that the reconciliation of receipts with tax deposits was not provided): 2019; there was no written document. Again, the rationale for the lack of policies is that there were no policies.
– Jeff Slapikas (President of the City Council): “We know what happened. Bank accounts haven’t been balanced for a year! Well, at least it’s finally recorded. This sums up the policies and procedures in place for 44 years.
We can no longer trust this administration. Is this how you expect your tax dollars to be protected? In total, the loss of theft was approximately $ 500,000 of our taxes. The loss includes theft, legal fees and the cost of the risk assessment. Your taxes have been wasted due to the incompetence and complacency of the administration trusted by taxpayers.
Prospect’s government is broken. It will not be fixed by the current administration. Prospect needs new leadership.
Peter Blinstrubas lives in Prospect.
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