Town looks for savings from audit; schools plan their own
Fairfield officials are ready to move ahead with operational audits of both municipal and educational operations, but those audits will be conducted separately.
At a news conference Wednesday, First Selectman Kenneth Flatto and Board of Finance Chairman Thomas Flynn outlined the goals that they hope the audit will achieve. Bids on the job will go out this week. The town has budgeted $50,000 for the audit, which will try to identify possible efficiencies in town government.
Flatto said he's written to the Board of Education about the possibility of a shared audit, but had not heard back. Board of Education Vice Chairwoman Pam Iacono said the school board has also set aside $50,000 for an audit, and its request for proposals will be voted on by the full board next week. A school board subcommittee has recommended, she said, that a liaison from the finance board sit on its operational audit committee.
"I think it is beneficial" that a joint audit be conducted, Flatto said, He added, however "The most important thing is that each organization gets a review." It is expected that whatever firm is hired to do the municipal audit should have recommendations ready by Thanksgiving prior to the start of the next budget season, he said.
Flynn said the Board of Finance wants the auditing firm to have "full and unfettered" access to allow for a complete review of all the town operations with "no sacred cows, no off-limits departments." The finance panel has also asked for a committee to assist the auditors, which Flatto has said he would create, and a commitment from the administration to implement and address any recommendations that come out of the review.
The town has conducted two similar operational audits in the past -- one in the 1980s during the First Selectman Jacquelyn Durrell's administration and a second in the 1990s during Paul Audley's tenure as first selectman.
Flatto said the auditors will be asked to set forth steps that would need to be taken to implement any recommendations. Some, he said, could be easier than others, For example, he said, a recommendation that requires changes in a union contract could not be done quickly, since negotiations would have to take place with the bargaining unit.
In preparation for the audit, all town department heads have been issued a five-page questionnaire that runs the gamut from describing the department's operations, revenue sources, public interaction, top expenditures, administrative and key employees to areas where they feel the department could operate more efficiently.