The Palisades Park Borough Council recently convened a meeting marked by debate and tensions among its members. Discussions centered on hiring an independent auditor to investigate discrepancies in the borough’s budget and bonds, the need for forensic auditing, and concerns over employee health and safety related to building repairs, particularly roofing.
The council debated the neccesity and process of hiring an indpendent auditor to to discrepancies found in the budget and bonds. A council member emphasized a distinction between an independent auditor and a forensic auditor, questioning the rationale behind hiring another independent auditor when one was already in place. “If you’re trying to see if something was misappropriated, if something was done incorrectly, I would think that it would be our responsibility to get a forensic audit,” Farrah stated. He argued that an independent auditor would duplicate efforts, whereas a forensic auditor could conclusively establish if any misappropriation or incorrect procedures had occurred.
This view was supported by others in the council, with calls for clarity on whether there had been discussions with the existing auditor before deciding on hiring another auditor. Concerns were raised about the expenditure involved in hiring another independent auditor.
Despite these concerns, it was noted that the council members had already voted on the business fund in question and that it was too late to revert.
Further, a fervent dialogue unfolded around bond ordinances. There were inquiries regarding the cancellation and issuance of two different bonds, revealing confusion and a lack of clear communication among council members. The intricacies of bond issuance and the proper exercise of authority became focal points, with a member questioning, “When you cancel this bond, do you have to rewrite the bond as we cancel for the reason?” An attorney clarified the stringent procedures and certifications required for issuing a bond, stating, “No bond gets issued unless a lot of forms are signed.”
Building repairs and employee safety also emerged as contentious issues. The state of a local building’s roof was a central topic of disagreement, with a participant urging, “Can we just fix the damn roof?” Questions were raised about budgeting for repairs and the involvement of GSE Industrial Hygiene in roof replacement. The dialogue evolved into concerns about employee health and the potential risks associated with the building’s condition, including the presence of mold and asbestos.
A councilman expressed, “Being a councilman, like being a leader, is always hard… The problem is the money cannot replace the safety and the health of our employment. We all agree.” Tensions escalated as members accused one another of being rude, changing stances, and having altercations over past decisions.