Ex-port authority staff describe challenges creating entity
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Former leaders of the Connecticut Port Authority described Wednesday numerous challenges they faced during the early days of setting up the new quasi-public entity, charged with advancing the state's maritime economy.
Scott Bates, the authority's former board chairman, told the General Assembly's Transportation Committee the volunteer board of directors had the “daunting mission” of starting a new quasi-public agency “from scratch” with $400,000 and two Department of Transportation employees on temporary loan. He said the group's only asset was the state pier in New London, which needed more than $100 million repairs.
“There was a lot of work going on in those first years, but we didn't have the resources we needed,” said former Old Lyme First Selectman Bonnie Reemsynder, another former port authority board chairman who succeeded Bates.
The General Assembly created the authority in 2014.
The committee held Wednesday's forum after an audit revealed various issues, including a lack of statutorily required policies. Auditors previously said the authority operated temporarily without accounting records detailing bank transactions.
The authority originally came under scrutiny for paying Reemsynder's daughter $3,000 for office art. Republican legislator voiced concerns about such “egregious” spending by the authority. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont called for Reemysnder's resignation and overhauled the authority's leadership.