Saying that his relationship with the Audit Committee has improved significantly in the past few months, New Canaan’s highest elected official and the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday supported the reappointment of one committee member and the appointment of one new member.
First Selectman Rob Mallozzi called prospective new Audit Committee member John Lanaway’s resume “unbelievable” and noted that his predecessor in the group, Janet Lanaway, “was there for some of the turmoil.”
“I have noticed in my dealings with the Audit Committee in the last three or four months, on my level, a much better understanding of the yin and yang of at least my role and [Town Administrator] Tom [Stadler]’s role and [Finance Director] Dawn [Norton]’s role and others in municipal government, and I have found that it has been a much different attitude—on my part, quite frankly, because I was hesitant about the Audit Committee,” Mallozzi said during a Board of Selectmen meeting, held at Town Hall. “So I can say I am feeling that there has been a change in the attitudes and I think a lot of it had to come from the top, and I take some responsibility for that, as well, and most recently in their help in trying to lay out what we are looking for in an internal auditor or controller, they have been much more user-friendly. I am happy to report that.”
The comments come a few weeks after the Audit Committee voted to recommended that the Town Council accept last fiscal year’s financial statements.
Last fall, the Audit Committee temporarily suspended its work, surprising and causing consternation for many in town, pending the adoption of some course-correcting measures that the group had drafted. After some initial resistance, officials worked to put recommended systems in place that are designed to ensure the town’s financials are in order.
Selectman Beth Jones said at the meeting that she had met with John Lanaway, calling him a “delightful and very smart man.”
“I think he will be a great asset, and I’m hoping that the other members take his lead and work collaboratively and try to build consensus instead of—they seem to have worked under a business model of financial powerhouses, and I hope that as we progress they work that consensus and collaboration and work to build community in a municipal setting,” Jones said.
An ordinance that town officials already have approved that would up the number of regular members on the Audit Committee from three to five, has not taken effect yet, Stadler said. In order to kickstart the process of getting Kangas and John Lanaway officially onto the committee, which will include interviews and requires approval of the Board of Finance as well as Town Council, Stadler recommended that the selectmen vote to appoint them now.
Mallozzi and Jones voted 2-0 in favor of the appointments. Selectman Nick Williams was absent due to a family matter.