COVENTRY – State and county officials have found no wrongdoing on the part of Coventry Town Clerk and Treasurer Cynthia Diaz regarding town finances and no charges have been filed. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that the financial procedures in place need work.
Only a handful of residents attended a meeting held at the Community Center Monday evening where Joseph Juhasz, deputy state auditor, went over a situation report his office recently conducted for the town.
In 2005, the select board brought in a forensic auditor; the board never saw the information, but law enforcement authorities did.
When questioned why the process took so long, Juhasz said he understands an outside firm did an audit that went to the state attorney’s office. The state's attorney decided he was not going to take any action on the information and passed it to the state auditor’s office, which in turn shared the information with the attorney general’s office.
The attorney general’s office, after a significant amount of time, hired an accounting firm to review the report and town records. The firm found nothing it would recommend for action by the attorney general’s office.
That was when the select board asked the auditor’s office to look at the internal control structure and the relationship of the various positions in town. The auditor’s office also looked at the tax collection process and procedures.
The auditor’s investigation included a series of interviews with Coventry Town Clerk and Treasurer Cindy Diaz. Staff from the auditor’s office went over the process of billing, collecting, recording, depositing tax receipts and collecting delinquent taxes. The office contacted some property owners to confirm some of the information that it gathered during the interviews. The auditor’s office reviewed the grand list and tax deposits and calculated some numbers to see if they confirmed the numbers the town is using.
“We got complete corporation from everyone here in Coventry including Cynthia and the board for any questions we had,” said Juhasz. “There is no complaint in our office for lack of cooperation.”
The results of the investigation confirmed what the auditor's findings: the internal control structure for financial management in the town is not the best it can be. The report showed there are also some errors in reporting, but nothing “earth shattering,” Juhasz said.
Juhasz said that Diaz discovered that $25,821 was posted in 2011 when it was a 2010 receipt.
The town is planning another regular audit.
“It’s not going to be a fraud audit or forensic audit, but that audit will build on this report the state auditor put together,” said Select Board Chair Mike Marcotte.