N.J. audit finds questionable spending in Newark

Even though the administration of former Mayor Cory Booker reduced the overall budget in Newark, a new audit by the state comptroller finds there was still some questionable spending in New Jersey’s largest city.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in payouts to cover unused sick time to retiring employees put a burden on the city’s budget, said New Jersey Comptroller Matt Boxer.

“That is a recurring issue throughout the state that we have found,” he said Tuesday. “Some municipalities have taken more aggressive action that others in terms of capping leave time.”

The audit also found Newark improperly overpaid more than $200,000 for things such as clothing allowances and hazard duty.

And the more than $10 million appropriated for the Newark Council and clerk offices far exceeded the amount spent in other large New Jersey cities, Boxer said.

The city government paid workers for overtime it can’t document, according to the audit.

But Boxer said a state-appointed financial monitor did not drop the ball.

“No I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “We focused on certain areas that we’ve made recommendations on, but we didn’t find anything that led to believe that the monitor had not been handling their particular responsibilities in an appropriate way.”

Boxer has suggested some changes in city practices to help cut expenses and reduce the strain on the municipal budget.

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