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Norwalk ‘money in a drawer’ to be addressed

NORWALK, Conn. – An effort to tighten up procedures at City Hall in underway after an internal audit showed unreconciled “cash being thrown in a drawer,” Norwalk officials say.

This came up in a discussion at Wednesday’s Board of Estimate and Taxation meeting about a request to expand the hours of a Planning and Zoning worker.

“What’s been done about the auditor’s report regarding cash being thrown in a drawer? Because that is a real crisis waiting to happen,” Mayor Harry Rilling said.

“We’ve got that issue in a number of places that need to be addressed,” Director of Management and Budgets Bob Barron said.

“We need to do that forthwith,” Rilling said.

Finance Director Thomas Hamilton partly explained it after the meeting.

“We’re doing some review down there,” he said. “There’s not an audit report that’s out. There’s nothing that’s been published, but we’re looking at a number of departments with a new internal auditor and that’s one of the ones. So we’re going to be looking to have them tighten up some of their procedures.”

During the meeting, Barron expressed skepticism about a request for an extra $10,000 in the P&Z budget to fund more part-time administrative help. The request is for $13,832; Hamilton’s recommendation was to budget $3,125. The department has been alloted $3,125 every year for part-time work, but the actual amount used varies, Barron said. It was $1,895 in 2011-12 and $996 in 2012-13, which doesn’t show a consistent need.

“Do you really have a plan for spending this $14,000 or so?” Barron asked rhetorically.

BET members asked him to put the $10,000 into the recommended operating budget, which will be the topic of a public hearing next Wednesday in Concert Hall.

“Let’s leave it in for now because I’m concerned about this money that’s laying around in a drawer that nobody is taking care of,” Rilling said. “… It has to be understood that they have to shore up their accounting procedures. They have to make sure that, at the end of each and every single day, that that money is reconciled and locked securely away someplace.”

BET Chairman Jim Clark agreed: “We should convey to Planning and Zoning that, from our point of view, one of the reasons we are approving this is that will somewhat help to come in line with the auditor’s recommendation for better accounting of the money that comes through that office.”

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