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West Haven’s finances will be under state oversight

West Haven City Hall
Pedro Xing
Wikimedia Commons
West Haven city hall

Governor Ned Lamont has authorized the state of Connecticut to take over the city of West Haven’s finances.

The decision was recommended by the Municipal Accountability Review Board after almost $900,000 of COVID-19 relief funds were either misspent or lacked documentation in West Haven.

The city will be monitored by a state oversight panel, which would give the Office of Policy and Management the highest level of control, Tier IV, over West Haven’s finances.

An investigation into the misuse of funds led to the arrests of four people. Two of them were city hall employees, including former state Representative Michael DiMassa, who resigned from office last October. The City Council took a unanimous vote of no confidence in Mayor Nancy Rossi last month.

Lamont said he had approved state oversight because the city lacks suitable management from its leaders.

“As detailed in the MARB report, there is an obvious lack of fiscal controls in West Haven and it is necessary for the state to step in and provide the oversight and accountability that the residents of the town and the state deserve,” Lamont said. “This decision is a direct result of the fiscal mismanagement in the city that has gone on for too long.”

Rossi wrote a letter to Lamont defending the city's fiscal management. She took credit for having four consecutive balanced budgets.

"Our fund balance is positive and growing at more than $6 million,” Rossi said earlier this week. “We are recruiting and hiring qualified staff in our finance department and across the city."

On Monday night, Council members Mitchell Gallignano and Colleen O’Connor were selected to sit in on the state oversight panel. O’Connor said she hopes the discussions between the city and MARB will be productive and civil.

Natalie is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.