By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Monday night the city council approved a funding request from the mayor for $72,000 to conduct an audit of the last two years of city finances.
But the topic of the evening was whether a private firm should conduct the audit or a state agency.
But the approval did not come easy as Councillor George Rotondo, questioned his choice of auditing firms. Councillors Anthony Zambuto and Charles Patch, said they would like an audit but they would prefer the state do it. Mayor Brian Arrigo explained why he has chosen CliftonLarsonAllen. He noted that prior to becoming mayor he worked for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) up until he took office on January 4. Arrigo said he asked his colleagues at the MBTA about auditing firms and CliftonLarsonAllen was mentioned.
Arrigo noted that the MBTA “is also trying to right the ship.”
Dan Sullivan, an auditor with CliftonLarsonAllen, attended the council meeting.
Arrigo noted that there was no transition to his team coming in because of the recount of the November 2015 mayoral election.
Rotondo questioned why the state auditor was not doing the audit. He also noted that CliftonLarsonAllen was involved in a lawsuit after an audit was done by the firm in Dixon, Illinois. The audit did not catch the embezzlement of $30 million over six years by the city comptroller. CliftonLarsonAllen settled out of the court with the city.
“The hiring of a firm for an audit does not fall within the state government’s 30B procurement law, “Arrigo said.
“I made a decision and that’s what an executive does,” Arrigo said.
He added that he is not asking for a complete audit, but just the audit of one department, the finance department.
“You don’t trust a state agency with a link to the FBI over a private one,” Rotondo asked. You didn’t even ask for other quotes. You didn’t do your due diligence.”
Rotondo said when he was a councillor in 2008 the city used the state for an audit. The audit revealed insight into the use of gasoline, city vehicles and equipment.
“It’s all online,” he said. “That audit was three times the size and half the price.”
Rotondo explained that it was his fiduciary responsibility to rein the mayor in when he’s overspending and I think he is. It’s the people’s money.”
“Simply ask the state auditor for a price,” Zambuto said.
“The mayor has a right to have an audit,” Patch said. “I just wish we could get a state audit. The taxpayers deserve a cheaper audit. It might be wiser and cheaper to get a state auditor in.”
Councillor John Powers said they need to give the mayor the necessary tools he needs.
“We are looking at $72,000,” Powers said. “The time for patience and delay has past. We need to get this city running.”