Bill Would Require State Comptroller to Verify Municipality Has Taken Corrective Action Following Performance Audit
TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice today introduced legislation requiring the State Comptroller to perform a compliance audit to ensure that municipalities which receive poor marks following a performance audit have taken the proper steps to address waste and abuse within their borders.
“An audit is only a useful tool in fighting municipal waste and abuse if the municipality takes action to correct waste and abuse found in the report,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “In my home city of Newark, we’ve had a municipal performance audit on the books for more than a year, and the city has yet to address the findings in the audit. If an audit uncovers waste of taxpayer dollars, the municipality should act immediately to end the waste and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
The bill would require the Office of State Comptroller to conduct a compliance audit of a municipality to verify that it has implemented a corrective action plan following a performance audit. Under the bill, the compliance audit must begin no less than 120 days following the submittal of a copy of the performance audit to the State Comptroller, and the compliance audit must be completed within 12 months. The municipality would be responsible for the total cost of the compliance audit.
In addition, the bill would permit the Director of the Division of Local Government Services, within the Department of Community Affairs, to refer findings that may constitute alleged criminal activity to the Attorney General or other appropriate prosecutorial authority for further civil or administrative action.
“Without proper follow-up, a municipal audit isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on,” said Senator Rice. “We cannot allow municipal leaders to drag their feet in complying with performance audits which reveal waste, fraud and abuse of the taxpayers’ trust. This bill would ensure timely, proper follow-up to make sure that municipal finances are handled appropriately, and that our elected leaders are doing everything they can to safeguard taxpayer dollars.”