Internal audit checks out community development department

07/27/2014 12:00 PM |

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An audit by the town’s independent audit committee and internal auditor showed that policies and procedures within the town’s community development department could stand to be tightened up to prevent potential wrongdoing. 

The audit explored the department’s home improvement program, a state-funded opportunity for local homeowners to receive help upgrading their properties based on their income levels. The program has given out about $1 million to 65 homeowners in town since 2008, community development director Christine Kempner said, though the audit focused on a narrow sample of applications — specifically, seven different files from 2013 were reviewed.

Eight different steps were laid out by the committee to tighten controls, including further formalizing bid withdrawals.

In addition, the committee suggested that efforts to spend available funds should be expedited.

Ms. Kempner said that a pivotal point person at the state level involved in processing files was recently laid off, accounting in part for the delays in funding requests.

Supervisor Sean Walter said that compared to his experience working with the community development during his time as assistant town attorney in the early 2000s — and taking into account that one full-time department employee was laid off in 2011 — results of the audit could not have been better. Only three full-time employees in the department remain.

“That report was as good as it comes considering what we’ve done,” he said.

Ms. Kempner and recreation department supervisor Ray Coyne — whose department underwent an internal audit last year — are both expected to speak to the board at a later date about measures they’ve taken in response to the audits.