HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said Monday that he is prohibiting city employees from charging business entertainment expenses on their city-issued credit cards, based on new audit findings.
Segarra’s chief of staff, Jared Kupiec, also announced that he will reimburse the city nearly $460 for charges on his city credit for a New Year’s Eve dinner at a city restaurant last December with Segarra and six other guests.
The meal totaled $700 and included caviar, steak, lamb and cheesecake, while the mayor’s spouse picked up the $205 tab for alcoholic beverages, the audit said.
City Council President Shawn Wooden asked city auditors in March to review the credit card use of 185 city employees, saying he received complaints about possible misuse of the cards. Records showed city employees, including Segarra, had charged tens of thousands of dollars for meals, hotels, airline tickets and other expenses since January 2011.
Aides to Segarra defended the use of the cards, saying all the charges were for city business and using the cards for budgeted expenses such as supplies and meals saved the city money.
The audit findings were released Friday and found no misuse of the cards, but recommended better controls and the elimination of charges for business entertainment expenses. Auditors also said nearly all transactions were supported by documentation.
City auditors said 168 city workers had “purchasing cards” when they began their review, and they found workers spent $761,000 in the nine months that ended March 31 of this year.
“Constant review, analysis and sound management of all city operations has been a hallmark of my time as mayor and these actions are consistent with my philosophy,” Segarra said in a statement. “I want the people of Hartford to know that I am out there on their behalf every single day and will continue to be in the months and years ahead.”
Kupiec said in a statement that he decided to reimburse the city because of the “distraction” the New Year’s Eve dinner caused, and after speaking with Segarra.
“There are too many other more significant matters that leadership in the Capital City needs to focus its attention on,” he said. “Those in public service should and need to be held to a higher standard and I truly apologize to city staff, residents and anyone else who has been unfairly consumed with this issue.”
Auditors said city finance officials, at the request of the mayor’s office, deactivated more than 70 city credit cards last month to curb spending and there are now only 41 active city purchasing cards.
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