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Lamont OKs Near-Total State Takeover Of Finances After Outside Audit Of City In Connecticut

West Haven City Hall
West Haven City Hall Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has approved the recommendation of the Municipality Accountability Review Board (MARB) to have the state provide its greatest level of oversight into finances in West Haven following an audit of the city due to an investigation into misappropriated funds.

Lamont announced on Tuesday, May 17 that he was designating the City of West Haven as a “Tier IV municipality” which allows the state to largely take over its finances.

The announcement comes following a 30-day period of public comment on the matter, which ultimately led to Lamont deciding to take the drastic measure.

West Haven has been under investigation following reports of former state lawmakers and others allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-19 funding that was earmarked to aid the city during the pandemic.

The MARB report can be found here.

“As detailed in the MARB report, there is an obvious lack of fiscal controls in West Haven and it is necessary for the state to step in and provide the oversight and accountability that the residents of the town and the state deserve,” Lamont said. “This decision is a direct result of the fiscal mismanagement in the city that has gone on for too long.

“Taxpayers deserve to have confidence that their money is well spent, and the stringent oversight that a Tier IV designation provides will allow the state to provide the tools necessary to address this situation.”

According to state officials, oversight of designated Tier I and Tier II municipalities involves providing financial information and reporting on remedial measures and actions, as well as presenting a three-year financial plan.

Tier III involves the MARB reviewing, commenting, and making recommendations related to annual budgets, contracts, debt obligations, and other matters. It also gives the board approval powers regarding refunding bonds and labor agreements and arbitration awards.

Tier IV municipalities involve “more significant MARB approval powers in regard to budgets, transfers, contracts, debt, and labor contracts,” they noted.

Lamont’s decision was not celebrated by all, including West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi, who has been vocal in defending her city and her administration’s fiscal management.

“MARB has had a financial consultant in West Haven City Hall since 2018 that is working to strengthen the finance operations and to act as a liaison to MARB,” Rossi said in a letter to Lamont. "If not for the unfortunate alleged illegal activities of this State Representative, West Haven would be celebrating historic success.”

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