TRENTON – Sen. Ronald L. Rice, (D-28), of Newark, wants the state comptroller to conduct an audit of Newark’s finances.
The longtime senator has introduced a resolution, SR-204, urging Gov. Chris Christie to request Matthew Boxer conduct a performance audit of the state’s largest city within 30 days of the Senate’s approval of the resolution.
“Newark is facing a crisis in terms of high crime rates, urban blight and prolonged and sustained poverty, and every last cent of city spending – whether it comes from local taxpayers or the State of New Jersey – has to be accounted for,” Rice said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen instances in the recent past in which individuals choose to use city resources for personal gain or political advantage, rather than invest in public safety, economic growth or our crumbling schools. We need to do a better job tracking spending and providing needed oversight to make sure we aren’t wasting already limited public resources on mismanaged bureaucracy and outright public corruption.”
The resolution, Rice said, is intended to uncover mismanagement, fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer funds by the city or any related local public or quasi-public entities, such as the Newark Housing Authority and the now-defunct Downtown Core Redevelopment Corporation, which has recently been connected with investigations into pay-to-play and no-bid contracts within the city.
If the resolution isn’t enacted upon, the state Auditor would conduct the audit, according to Rice. The intent of the audit is to make sure that the limited resources allocated to Newark by the state are being spent properly.
Rice has previously called for similar audits of his home city, where the mayor, Cory Booker, is a political nemesis. In June, the Senate approved by a vote of 26-9, one of his bills, S2565, which calls for a compliance audit to be conducted on municipalities to make sure they are following a corrective action plan that is issued to a municipality after a performance audit has taken place.
“Rather than looking the other way when it comes to complying with an audit, we need to keep the pressure on our elected local leaders and force them to address issues revealed through an audit in a timely and appropriate manner,” Rice said after the bill’s passage in the upper chamber.
S2565 has yet to be passed by the Assembly.