Harrison makes 'significant progress' fixing poor financial planning

HARRISON – Three years after a state audit discovered the city was overspending and paying retirement advantages to former staff who had already died, Harrison is getting some excellent news.

The West Hudson city has made “vital progress” in addressing its wasteful monetary and working practices, leading to financial savings for taxpayers, in response to a brand new report from the State Comptroller.

In 2014, the state audited Harrison and located it was spending an extreme sum of money in retirement payouts and well being advantages. The report indicated the municipality might have saved almost $6 million through the use of a State Well being Advantages Plan for its staff moderately than a personal insurance coverage service.

Harrison had additionally did not maintain correct data of retired staff to whom the city was paying medical advantages. This resulted in Harrison paying greater than $20,000 to 3 retirees who had already died, the report discovered.

After the preliminary findings in 2014, the state provided thirteen suggestions for the city to wash up its working prices. Of these suggestions, 10 have been carried out, two haven’t been carried out, and one has been partially carried out, officers stated.

Modifications to the city’s spending embrace the elimination of longevity pay for brand spanking new staff, and enrollment within the state well being advantages. Harrison has additionally added clauses to its contracts that maintain builders financially liable for development delays. 

“Taxpayers in Harrison are the beneficiaries of the working and coverage revisions made in response to our audit,” State Comptroller Philip James Degnan stated.  “Progress has been made in most of the areas addressed in our report, resulting in a big quantity of taxpayer cash being saved.”

The city, nevertheless, nonetheless presents life insurance coverage to its present and retired staff along with the protection already provided by way of the pension system. The state had advisable the elimination the $2,500 coverage, however the city reported it couldn’t attain an settlement with the employees’ union.

Harrison Mayor James Fife stated the city’s employees has been working diligently over the previous a number of years to get its operations “underneath management” and referred to as this week’s report “very constructive.” The city has been capable of hold prices down whereas additionally holding tax hikes to a minimal. 

Fife added this would be the first in a few years that the city won’t be receiving transitional assist from the state. Improvement, he stated, has helped increase the tax income the city receives. 

“With out the brand new developments coming on-line we might have needed to keep on the transitional assist,” Fife stated, including extra improvement is deliberate. “We’re making an attempt to maintain that revenue coming in and solely spend inside our means.”

Caitlin Mota could also be reached at cmota@jjournal.com. Comply with her on Twitter @caitlin_mota. Discover The Jersey Journal on Fb. 


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