Independent Auditor Was Unable to Determine What Happened to $33 Million in State & Federal Grants, Said $475,000 in County Funds “Unlocated”
Senator Kristin M. Corrado (R-40) said a new document provided by the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) raises questions about financial irregularities that occurred during Acting Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio’s time in local government that will need to be answered at her confirmation hearing on Monday.
Sen. Kristin Corrado said that Acting Treasurer Muoio must answer questions at her confirmation hearing about missing and mishandled money during her time as a Mercer County Freeholder. (SenateNJ.com)
“The Senate Judiciary Committee has a responsibility to carefully vet gubernatorial nominees to confirm that they’re qualified and fit for the office to which they’ve been appointed,” said Corrado, a member of the committee. “During our routine research into Acting Treasurer Muoio’s time as a Mercer County Freeholder, we were disturbed to learn that the county could not account for the receipt or appropriate use of $33 million of state and federal grants. Further, we were shocked to learn that hundreds of thousands of dollars went missing, which an independent auditor was unable to locate. Given Acting Treasurer Muoio’s indication to the Judiciary Committee that she worked ‘closely’ on budgets during her time in local office, we’d like to know if she can explain these financial discrepancies that occurred on her watch.”
The OLS memo includes a 2003 audit in which an independent auditor noted “an inability of management” at Mercer County at that time to reconcile accounts receivable, including nearly $22 million of grants authorized by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and more than $11.4 million from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The auditor noted that it was “unable to confirm these accounts receivable” or the assignment of grants to “specific projects approved” by the FAA, or, apparently, the NJDOT.
Corrado said these financial irregularities were concerning since the county’s property taxes increased by 86 percent during Muoio’s time working on the Mercer County budget.
“I’m concerned that during Acting Treasurer Muoio’s time managing Mercer County’s money, tens of millions in grants couldn’t be accounted for, nearly half-a-million dollars went missing, and county property tax bills skyrocketed,” added Corrado. “We need to know if she assumes responsibility for these irregularities, or if she overstated her involvement in managing the county’s fiscal affairs. These are questions that Acting Treasurer Muoio must be prepared to answer.”
Given the massive budget and tax increase proposal recently unveiled by the Murphy Administration, Corrado said it’s important for the Acting Treasurer to explain how her prior experience has prepared her for the responsibility of managing tens of billions of dollars of New Jersey taxpayers’ money.
“We must presume that Acting Treasurer Muoio helped to craft the Governor’s budget proposal, which includes the most spending in New Jersey history and a $1.7 billion tax increase,” Corrado concluded. “New Jersey taxpayers need assurances that the fiscal mismanagement that occurred during her watch in Mercer County won’t be repeated at the New Jersey Treasury.”
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