When Hartford changed its charter and adopted a strong mayor system in 2002, it also created an Independent Audit Commission to provide objective reviews and assessments of the city's operations and finances.
The commission and chief auditor H. Patrick Campbell are trusted and respected. City councilman Matthew Ritter thinks the auditors may be able to resolve the still-roiling controversy surrounding the closing of two library branches by the Hartford Public Library.
In a letter to the mayor and council leadership, Mr. Ritter proposes that the audit commission "review the current financial arrangement between the City and the library" to see if cost-saving measures can be found. One obvious goal is to find funds to reopen or replace the closed branches, which are in the Asylum Hill and Blue Hills neighborhoods.
Mr. Ritter also proposes, among other ideas, that the library look into the possibility of locating more library branches in schools, as has been done successfully in the SAND and Parkville schools.
The call for the auditors is appropriate because the issue is money. The library wanted to increase its $8.4 million budget to $9.3 million, but instead had to reduce it to $8.2 million which, directors say, caused the branch closures. It thus makes sense to study the finances to see if there are efficiencies that might benefit the library and the taxpayers.
Indeed, the audit commission ought to be brought in more often.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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