August 24, 2017-Bristol Mayor Ken Cockayne and Board of Finance Chairwoman Cheryl Thibeault announced today that they have asked the Purchasing Agent to prepare a Request for Proposal to conduct a Forensic Audit of The Bristol Board of Education’s budget for fiscal years 2015-16 and 2016-17. This decision comes following the City Comptroller’s Office identifying a $2,381,120 deficit for fiscal year 2016-17 and the Board of Education being completely unaware of the problem.
The Board of Education ended the 2015-16 budget year with a $2,044,817 deficit. At that time, the City’s Board of Finance, Mayor and Comptroller recommended that a separate fund be set up to better manage the special education portion of the Board of Education’s budget. The Board of Education declined to do that and instead pledged more transparency for that portion of the budget.
Chairwoman Cheryl Thibeault said “A forensic audit is an important tool so that the City can obtain a complete view of the Board of Education’s finances. We can evaluate procedures in place and make recommendations and improvements to ensure compliance and accuracy. The Audit subcommittee will evaluate proposals and present to the full Board of Finance for final approval.”
Additionally, Mayor Cockayne stated “It is frustrating from the City’s overall perspective to discover such a large deficit in the Board of Education budget and what is more troubling is that the Board of education wasn’t aware of it. We have been diligently working on several options to manage the cuts that will most likely come from the state, while minimizing any impact to the taxpayers. Now we add an additional $2.38 million to whatever the impact is of the state budget to the City of Bristol.”
City Comptroller Diane Waldron added that “The deficit was discovered while closing the financial records for the June 30, 2017 fiscal year and preparing for the year end audit.”