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Thousands of Dollars in Utility Bills Missing From Montclair Parking Authority

Report of 10 years of practices at the taxpayer-funded authority shows mismanagement, missing financial records and utility bills.

The Montclair Parking Authority may have $100,000 in missing uiltity bills, according to a report released this week.

A study of 10 years of records of the Montclair Parking Authority showed an agency in disarray – suffering from a lack of order in everything from its rules and regulations to its finances.

But the most startling information in the report, done by former township business administrator Joseph Hartnett and township auditors, raises concerns over possibly $100,000 in missing utility bills.

“The report speaks for itself,” said Mayor Robert Jackson. “It is not the best news I have ever read ... and it is a little disquieting, I would say. It bears some attention from the commissioners.”

The report, released Tuesday, analyzed all available data and documentation regarding the parking authority, such as annual audits and financial records. In addition, numerous members of the authority were interviewed for the report, including former chairman Duane Storms, and commissioners Anthony Ianuale and Dale Jacobs. 

Former Executive Director of the Parking Authority, John Teubner, did not respond to requests to be interviewed for his input, stated the report.

Among the issues raised in the report were:

• Poorly managed parking meters

• A lack of uniform rules and regulations for managing the parking decks, lots, and street parking

• An inadequate marketing campaign and refusal to communicate effectively with the public. 

• A lack of bookkeeping of budgets and other finances

• No formal financial controls

• A dearth of written procedures

• No training of staff

• An “archaic and inadequate” system for handling revenues  

Though this is the most recent report done on the authority, it is not the only one that pointed to the agency’s problems. An independent audit of the authority’s finances in 2010 found an “increasing deficit” of its assets, and questioned the viability of the authority, according to the report. To stay afloat, the authority began reducing its lease payments to the township. 

When the new township council was sworn in this July, one of its first actions was to vote to dissolve the authority.

The township moved one step closer to liquidating the authority last week. The Department of Community Affairs’ Local Finance Board voted unanimously on Oct. 10 to approve the township’s desire to eliminate the authority. 

The parking authority is also reportedly under investigation by the state Commission of Investigation, according to a recent report in the The Montclair Times.  

Since July, the chairman and vice chairmen, Storms and Matthew Silverman, respectively, have resigned. In addition, both Storms and Silverman refused to sign a letter from the authority’s own auditor validating its finances were “accurate and complete,” and its business was “conducted without fraud,” according to the report.

Since then, no other member of the authority has signed the auditor’s letter certifying the authority’s finances, according to the report. 

 “Whatever else this does or does not indicate,” the report found, “it is a manifestation that the Authority’s functional status is at a bare minimum.”  

Township auditors will soon release an additional report investigating the parking authority’s finances.  

Right of Center October 18, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Excuse me, but how much did we pay Hartnett for this study and the most definitive statement we get is: "Joseph Hartnett and township auditors, raises concerns over possibly $100,000 in missing utility bills." "Concerns" over the possibility? And I've heard some discussion that Hartnett might be hired to run a new parking utility? 1. Is this just posturing? Angling for a job? 2. The "possibility" of something isn't quite yet, "something" yet, you know?
Bruce Tyler October 19, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Oh! So...the truth finally comes out. What else were they hiding? Huh!
Bruce Tyler October 19, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Why do you want to reject what I just stated
Bruce Tyler October 19, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Oooooo......maybe they are just...whats that word? Oh! Incompatent.Did I spell that right?
MC October 19, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Patch -- I may just be tired at the end of the week, but what does "missing utility bills" mean. Missing = an unpaid/delinquent bills totally $100k? Or bills that were paid but entered into the accounting system in a misleading way? Why does the report use the qualifier "possibly"? Is there a potential discrepancy in how the charges were booked or has the PA just not paid PSE&G in some time? Thanks for your time and clarification.

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