Stamford City Controller to Retire in Wake of Delayed Audit

Stamford (CT Examiner)


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STAMFORD – David Yanik, the city controller whose office is at the center of a year-long delay in financial reporting to the state, is retiring.

Yanik’s boss, Director of Administration Ben Barnes, confirmed Tuesday that the chief accounting executive, who controls Stamford’s financial records, has announced his retirement effective March 1.  

Barnes said Yanik “is undertaking transition of his work to others.” 

Barnes did not say whether the retirement of Yanik, who is in his late 60s, is related to the 2022 audit report that was due to the Connecticut Office of Policy & Management in December 2022. 

He hopes to hire a new controller in the next two months, Barnes said.

All last year Yanik, who has been in the job 12 years, answered Board of Finance questions about the audit by saying “we’re working on it,” resulting in heated monthly meetings in which board members chastised the controller for deficiencies in financial reporting. 

The state requires that every town hire an independent auditor to examine its books each year to ensure financial health. The audit is called the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report.

The delay in Stamford’s report has posed a threat to its ability to sell bonds to pay for school reconstruction, road repairs and other capital projects, and to its AAA bond rating with the credit agencies and its standing with banks and underwriters.

The Connecticut Office of Finance has warned the city that “the lack of timely audit reports is a serious matter” and a possible “warning sign.” 

The delay will cost taxpayers a lot more.

The city paid its independent auditor, RSM, $345,000 to do the work but, because of the delay, now owes RSM $200,000 to $300,000 more.

Barnes has told the Board of Finance that he “may have to find other funding sources to make sure we can pay RSM.”

As it is, Barnes, who took his post in September, gathered $75,000 from other departments in the Office of Administration to hire a second firm, CliftonLarsonAllen, to ensure that the 2023 audit is not as late. 

The 2023 audit was due Sunday.

According to the state OPM’s Electronic Audit Reporting System, Stamford, No. 2 among Connecticut’s five biggest cities, is the only one on the list that has not filed its 2022 audit. 

Yanik, whose most recent annual salary is $175,000, has said the delay was caused by RSM, which was working in Stamford for the first time, and by the city’s switch to a new financial reporting system. Yanik also cited staff shortages in his office.

But 2022 was not the city’s first late audit, Board of Finance members have said. 

By the time Yanik took the post in December 2011, outside auditors were already reporting deficiencies in the city’s financial reporting.

That year, the city’s outside firm reported that its auditors could not begin the work on time because city employees had not reconciled accounts, and the tax department had not delivered needed information to the controller.

Reporting procedures were insufficient, the firm said, and financial information was poorly maintained. Finances were not updated monthly, staffing in the controller’s office was inadequate, and city employees did not have sufficient understanding of accounting and reporting practices, the firm said.

The same auditor found the same problems in 2012, Yanik’s first full year on the job. 

When Yanik was hired, city officials touted his education and credentials. According to his LinkedIn page, Yanik earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in business administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a certified public accountant, an information systems auditor, and a financial manager. His resume included multiple jobs in the private sector, but some city officials called out his lack of municipal experience. 

The job had been vacant for nearly a year when Yanik took it, and the city was without a director of administration, who supervises the controller.

Mary Lou Rinaldi, chair of the finance board’s Audit Committee, has said she researched the city’s audit history and found none filed with the state for 2013 and 2014, Yanik’s next two years on the job.

From 2015 to 2020, the independent auditor was Blum Shapiro & Co., which reported repeated deficiencies, including missing documentation, in the tax collector’s office, the grants office, and pension fund accounts. 

In 2021, a new auditor reported the same problems in the tax collector’s office.

For the 2022 audit, Rinaldi has said, RSM accountants told her multiple times that Yanik’s office was not delivering the information needed to conduct the audit.

The Board 0f Finance is expected to receive the 2022 audit at its Jan. 11 meeting. It will include comments from RSM about what went wrong, and explanations from Yanik’s office about how to rectify the shortcomings.

Yanik Tuesday did not return a request for comment.

Angela Carella

For 36 years prior to joining the Connecticut Examiner, Angela Carella was a beat reporter, investigative reporter, editor and columnist for the Stamford Advocate. Carella reports on Stamford and Fairfield County. T: 203 722 6811.