Arbitration subcommittee questions New Canaan CFO
The Lakeview Avenue bridge arbitration issue has become the subject of much controversy, with the subcommittee spending hours trying to understand the arbitration and its aftermath. Last week was no exception, as the subcommittee questioned the town's chief financial officer, Gary Conrad, on the issue.
Conrad discussed everything, from the details of different funds, mainly the capital non-recurring fund, to what he knew and did after he found out about the award. Conrad learned about the $650,000 award against the town in early March and was one of the few people other First Selectman Jeb Walker, Director of Public Works Michael Pastore and Town Attorney Chris Jarboe to know of the outcome. He explained that much of the focus by the people who knew of the award once it was handed down was to get the paperwork ready for state reimbursement and to deliberate on whether to appeal the decision, as made clear by Jarboe and Pastore at previous meetings.
Conrad also explained why the award money and the legal bills, which total more than $800,000 in fees, was taken out of the capital and non-recurring fund.
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"Legal expenses are associated with a project," Conrad said. "From an economy stand point, any cost associated with a project will be tied to that project."
Other questions included check signatures and the role of Town Treasurer V. Donald Hersam. It was revealed that Hersam's signature on the checks was a "facsimile," or reproduced, signature as opposed to an original one.
When asked about recommendations he would make to improve this process in the future, Conrad said he agreed with points made by the Board of Selectmen at last week's meeting, and added one of his own as well.
"I was thinking one of the things would possibly be to implement a legal committee that would meet quarterly and to let them make a judgement call going ahead as managers of any litigation," Conrad said.
He indicated that it would be best to get different members of the Town Council and Board of Finance with legal expertise to volunteer for that committee.
The next subcommittee meeting was scheduled for Wednesday after press time, where a representative from McGladrey & Pullen, the town's accounting firm, the town treasurer, chairman of the Town Council and chairman of the Town Council Public Works Subcommitee were scheduled to appear.
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