A Paycheck Protection Program loan to a Connecticut fire department will come under scrutiny after taxpayers raise concerns, and NBC Connecticut Investigates has looked into the matter.
The Blue Hills Fire District got a P3 loan, but two former commissioners say they weren’t even aware of the request and some are now wondering how the money was used. But maybe it’s up to local leaders, not federal authorities, to dig.
“As someone who is advising clients on this particular issue, you want to try and use the program for its intended purpose, which is to keep people employed,” explained Ryan Sheppard of Knight Rolleri Sheppard Certified Public Accountants.
Sheppard believes that most P3 loans under $ 150,000 will have little or no federal scrutiny, so situations like the Blue Hills Fire District in Bloomfield will be left to local officials, not the Small. Business Administration, which oversees the program.
“These apps are really going to be a one-page voucher that you sign and give to the SBA. That basically says here is the number of employees I was able to keep, here is my estimated payroll, and you call it a day, ”Sheppard said.
Hearing complaints from the public, two new fire marshals have decided not to wait for federal authorities and will have a forensic auditor examine a $ 120,000 PPP loan made to the Blue Hills Fire Department and where it was spent.
The district applied for the loan without a committee vote. Commissioner Ariel Jaunai then successfully brought forward a motion to use some of that money for additional pay for firefighters, including her husband, according to district records.
District finance director Errol Bartley said he did not keep a copy of the PPP loan application. When found, it showed that it had been completed not under the district name, but under a similar name with a different tax ID number. Bartley said it was a mistake.
The CFO declined to be interviewed. Jaunai commented. She said the PPP loan had been discussed with other commissioners but had not been voted on. She also defended her motion and voted for additional pay for firefighters, including her husband, saying she felt the pay was for the whole body, not just for him.
The US Small Business Administration claims that PPP money can be used for bonuses and bonuses. Jaunai also said that although the additional pay for firefighters is intended to be paid with PPP money, none of the $ 120,000 has yet been spent.