COUNCIL MEMBERS TO DCA: WHY SHOULD WE REAPPOINT AN ETHICALLY COMPROMISED INSURANCE BROKER?
Council Vice President + Two Camden City Councilwomen Call on State to Weigh-In on Reappointment of Conner Strong following
State Comptroller Audit Report
(CAMDEN, NJ) – Following news regarding a state audit on their business practices in a neighboring community, Council members Marilyn Tores, Shaneka Boucher, and Felisha Reyes-Morton issued a letter today to the state Department of Community Affairs requesting that they weigh-in on the appointment of Conner Strong & Buckelew as the risk manager for the city of Camden.
‘The state Comptroller’s audit reveals shocking details about the level of greed and improper advice given by Conner Strong in managing Pennsauken Schools insurance policy,” said Marily Torres, council vice president. “It’s why I cannot in good conscience vote for this resolution.”
Conner Strong and Buckelew are on the December 28, 2021 Special Meeting Agenda for reappointment as the insurance risk management consultant.
“Our job is to be good stewards of the public’s tax dollars,” said Councilwoman Shankea Boucher, an executive in the non-profit sector. “Approving this resolution, given what we’ve learned, is completely counter to the taxpayers’ interests.”
In their letter to Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who heads the state Department of Community Affairs(DCA), they wrote:
“A recent audit conducted by the New Jersey State Comptroller’s Office discovered a $1.6 million analysis error made by Conner Strong & Buckelew, the insurance broker for Pennsauken Public Schools, a neighboring community to Camden.
“In the audit’s findings section, it clearly states: “The District could have cut costs of at least $1.6 million in FYs 2014 and 2015 by joining the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP).
“Instead, Conner Strong & Buckelew chose to focus on their commissions and place the Pennsauken Public Schools in a more costly private plan. Moreover, the audit also points out that Conner Strong & Buckelew was “Improperly paying employees $95,000 in health benefit opt-out waivers, stipends, and unused accrued leave.”
“You don’t have to be Elon Musk to realize what’s taken place here,” said Councilwoman Felisha Reyes-Morton. “Conner Strong treats public entities like banks and they’re gonna do everything in their power to shake every dollar loose, no matter the cost to taxpayers. We’re not going to let that happen in Camden anymore.”
DCA has the ability to veto the professional service contract due to the provisions of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and state agency.