(Bayonne, NJ) – Mayor Jimmy Davis issued the following statement in connection with the release of a report by the New Jersey Department of Education’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance (OFAC) surrounding disputed school bond reimbursements between the City of Bayonne and the Bayonne Board of Education:
“This confirms what we have been saying all along. For the past several years there was no paper trail kept between the City and Board of Education. This lack of documentation and failure to follow best-practices has caused doubt and concern within our community as to how taxpayers’ money was spent by the City and Board of Education.
The report clearly states that the historical lack of record keeping makes it impossible to verify payments between the agencies. The escalation of these faults can only be characterized as a betrayal of public trust.
The fact that the State was unable to provide an unqualified opinion is most telling. As noted in the report itself, the State’s ability to conduct this investigation and issue an unqualified, fully detailed report was hampered by the Board of Education’s inability to provide records, including 40 boxes of documents that were taken from the District by an undisclosed governmental agency.
It is unfortunate that the State has to step in to issue their recommendations by way of a Corrective Action Plan. I believe, however, that upon the Board of Education’s adoption of the Plan, we can return to full, regular order, and all transactions between the Board and City will be undisputed going forward. This action will significantly reduce the likelihood of disputes and disagreements of this nature going forward.
In turn, I have requested that, prior to the end of the calendar year 2015, the Board of Education issue the City payment in the amount of $804,000 in connection with reimbursements received from the State by the Board during the course of the State’s investigation. Pursuant to the State’s recommendation, the Board has agreed to pass a resolution at a public meeting issuing payment to the City.
On behalf of my administration, I can say confidently that we have been proactive in initiating clear, publically presented, written interlocal agreements for services and the exchange of public funds. Among others, the documentation supporting the rehabilitation of the Korpi Ice Rink is a prime example. I expect and consider this type of open, transparent action to be part of our regular operating procedure.
This is my expectation, and I believe it is shared by the many thousands who call Bayonne their home. In 2014 the voters chose change and ushered in a new era of open, transparent and representative government. As we transition to a new year I believe it is time for the newly elected school board to raise our School District to that same standard.”