Education

Board of Education Forensic Audit Reveals Financial Improprieties

f7af5ae2d466bdf0cc70_Lerch.jpg
CPA Dieter Lerch presents his findings to the board. Credits: Fran Sullivan
f7af5ae2d466bdf0cc70_Lerch.jpg

ELIZABETH, NJ – A vendor related to a member of the Elizabeth school board was paid about $400,000 over the past five years for work that was improperly never put out to bid, according to a forensic audit revealed March 17.

The results of the audit, presented at the Elizabeth Board of Education meeting by attorney Lester Taylor and accountant Dieter Lerch, found that about $80,000 per year was paid each year, for the past five years, to Trujillo Construction, a firm related to school board member Carlos Trujillo. 

The board mandates that any work costing $36,000 or more must be put out for bid, said Taylor and Lerch. They said the invoices were not detailed and contained only one-line items and they noted the checks were sent to the home of another board member.

Sign Up for E-News

“Have I done something wrong?” asked Trujillo at the meeting. “Have I done something illegal?”

School board attorney Jonathan Williams said he didn’t think so, but said the issue warrants further review.

Other audit findings fell into several categories. Lerch reported that 35 former employees were still receiving health coverage despite being no longer eligible. This, he said, is costing $18,500 per month. From the time these employees left their jobs, the board has paid $350,000 for their insurance premiums, said the accountant.

Lerch also revealed bid violations. He said he found $70,000 worth of violations involving mechanical services. He also said he found that the board paid $107,000 for asphalt work that was bid at $50,300.

Lerch said snow removal that was bid at $78,300 actually cost the board $232,000 and auto repairs bid at $100,000 came in at $130,000.

Emergency services, such as heating and air conditioning abatements and asbestos removals were bid out at $170,000 and the actual cost was $227,000, said Lerch. 

In other board business, a tentative $569.4 million budget was passed for the 2016-2017 school year. Among the highlights of the tentative budget, approved by the Board in a 6-1-1 vote, are a 0 percent tax increase to local taxpayers and no reduction of district personnel.

The budget approved by the Board is a tentative budget, meaning modifications or necessary improvements may still be made through April 29, said the board. A public hearing on the budget will be held at the Donald Stewart Early Childhood Center in Elizabeth on May 5, 2016 at 7 p.m.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Elizabeth

Exchange Place and WTC PATH Stations to Close For Weekend Track Maintenance

July 5, 2018

JERSEY CITY, NJ - At least they waited until after the Fourth of July fireworks were over before starting. Important information for rail commuters.

PATH stations at Exchange Place and the World Trade Center (WTC) will close at 11:59 p.m. this Friday, July 6, and remain closed until 5 a.m. Monday, July 9, to allow crews to transition to a new signal ...

Roselle Man Charged with Multiple Counts of Animal Cruelty After Search Finds Over 40 Dogs Living in Squalor

July 11, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - Charges have been filed on the Roselle man found with more than 40 dogs living in severely unsanitary and inhumane living conditions in his home last month said acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan.

Authorities say, Evelio J. Calderon, 40, is charged with than 30 criminal offenses that include two 3rd-degree animal cruelty offenses, 14 counts of 4th-degree animal ...

Presbyterian Church Steeple, a Roxbury Landmark, Gets Overdue Attention

July 11, 2018

ROXBURY, NJ - The long-sought restoration of the iconic, but decaying steeple atop the First Presbyterian Church of Succasunna is underway.

Using a massive hydraulic boom lift, workers from Main Street Custom Homes and Remodeling of Succasunna, got a close-up look today at the 165-year-old structure. The company, headquartered a few doors away, is volunteering the project management ...

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...

Union County Students Invited to Experience a Unique Silent Party

July 13, 2018

Students ages 12 to 16 are invited to “Youth Chella,” a silent party scheduled for Friday, August 16 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Union County’s Watchung Reservation at the Trailside Nature and Science Center, located at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside.

Admission and refreshments are free with the donation of a snack item. The donations will be provided to students ...