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Rice Measure To Ensure Compliance With Municipal Audit Advances In Committee

Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-Essex)

Bill Would Require State Comptroller to Verify Municipality Has Taken Corrective Action Following Performance Audit

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice which would require 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 was unanimously approved by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today.

“Without the proper follow-through, a performance audit of waste and abuse within a municipality isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex, and a member of the Senate panel. “In New Jersey, we have a number of agencies and exhaustive oversight to determine whether a municipality or other government agency is wasting taxpayer resources, but we don’t follow up to make sure they’re correcting the problem. This bill would hold government officials’ feet to the fire, to make sure they act quickly and decisively to end waste and abuse of the taxpayers’ trust.”

The bill, S-2565, 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 conducted by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). 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 DCA, to refer findings that may constitute alleged criminal activity to the Attorney General or other appropriate prosecutorial authority for further civil or administrative action. Under current law, the State Comptroller is required to perform subsequent reviews on Comptroller-performed audits, but no similar requirement is in place for DCA-conducted auditing.

“When it comes to protecting taxpayer dollars and holding the line on property tax increases, we cannot let municipal leaders drag their feet in their efforts to end fraud and abuse of the system,” said Senator Rice. “Rather than looking the other way when it comes to compliance with an audit, we need to continue our oversight, to make sure that the issues revealed are addressed in a timely, proper fashion, and that our elected leaders are doing everything in their power to safeguard taxpayer dollars.”

The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for review, before going to the full Senate for consideration.

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