SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – An audit discovered city funds were misused by the Springfield Department of Elder Affairs.
About a dozen Elder Affairs employees were allegedly using grant money given to the city to pay for their own personal parking expenses.
An audit of Springfield Elder Affairs finances discovered $27,000 was used between 2011 and 2016 to wrongfully validate employee parking. A practice that dates back to 2006.
A contract with the Springfield Parking Authority allows visitors who park in the SPA garage next to 1600 East Columbus Avenue and use the senior center’s services to get their parking validated, not employees.
22News sat down with the city’s Director of Internal Audit who said they uncovered the issue when the parking bills didn’t match their visitor data.
“The parking bills from SPA were un-reconciled. Typically the proper protocol is that you match the parking bills to your visitor logs to make sure that they are reasonable and that wasn’t happening,” said Yong No.
The audit found that Elder Affairs employees at the Good Life Center parked in the parking garage next door and then wrongfully charged state and federal grants to get reimbursed for their expenses for about $27,000.
Springfield City Councilor Michael Fenton told 22News the audit committee met in executive session and discussed possibly suing the Department of Elder Affairs.
Neither Councilor Fenton or Audit Director No would comment on personnel, but longtime Elder Services Director Janet Rodriguez-Denney resigned at the beginning of February.
“The one finding that was conclusive in my opinion is that in no even should an employee have been having their parking reimbursed through a federal state grant. That is the action that was inappropriate,” said councilor Fenton.
What the audit doesn’t reveal is if the misused money was done intentionally or if it was simply a mistake. Typically, employees have their monthly parking bills deducted from their paycheck, not validated and paid for by the city.