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Time For An Accounting

Hartford Courant

August 19, 2013

Yet another audit indicates that Hartford's finance department is like a car that is not running on all cylinders. Mayor Pedro Segarra may need to take it to a new mechanic.

A recently released audit of the department's payroll unit by chief auditor H. Patrick Campbell found a number of problems ranging from overpayments to a failure to file state and federal tax forms, which can incur penalties.

The audit found that one employee was overpaid by about $10,600, money that has still not been returned. In another instance, 43 police officers and one other employee were overpaid by a total of $21,376. These were not identified until a police officer reported that he had been overpaid. That's the kind of thing you would hope the system would catch.

What's particularly troubling about this audit is that many of the problems revealed were also identified in a 2012 audit -- and not corrected. That is inexcusable.

Finance director Julio Molleda cites high turnover in the unit and says the issues are being addressed. Be that as it may, the audit is one of several this year that reveal a pattern of inefficiency.

Last month, the Internal Audit Commission released a review of the revenue management unit. It found poor control of leases, rentals and other revenue arrangements; bounced checks that hadn't been followed up; and missing documentation.

Earlier this year, city auditors issued a report critical of the city's oversight of the lease arrangement for the two public golf courses, at Goodwin and Keney parks.

Also, the auditors looked at purchases made with city-issued credit cards and found "policies, procedures and controls need strengthening and better enforcement."

In short, there is a culture of sloppiness where there needs to be a culture of thrift and tight accounting.

Hartford doesn't have money to waste. Mr. Segarra has to get a strong chief operating officer in place.

He also must decide if Mr. Molleda is the right person to tune up the finance department. At this point the engine is knocking badly.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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