Boston, MA – State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump is calling on the Fall River Line Pier, Inc. (FRLP) and its board members to strengthen financial oversight and protections against conflicts of interest, after an audit questioned some of the organization’s non-payroll expenses. The audit found FRLP made payments to companies in which board members had undisclosed financial interests, made expenditures that were not in support of the organization’s mission, and did not collect outstanding balances from tenants in a timely manner. The audit examined the period of January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018.
“Board members of the Fall River Line Pier, Inc. have a responsibility to ensure that spending by the organization aligns with its mission, and is done in a manner that is transparent and fair. Our audit makes clear the board must implement policies to avoid perceived or real conflicts of interest, and improve financial management,” Bump said of the audit. “These are issues of public trust and I urge the FRLP board to take these matters seriously.”
The audit shows FRLP paid for 83 expenses totaling $121,874 to private companies in which some board members had financial interests that were not properly disclosed. FRLP did not have a policy for how to deal with potential conflicts of interest or documentation to substantiate that these transactions were discussed by the board. The audit also found FRLP spent over $19,625 for expenses unrelated to the organization’s mission, including sending six board members to a conference in Miami. Finally, the audit found FRLP regularly did not collect outstanding balances from two of its tenants in a timely fashion.
In the audit, Bump calls on the organization to establish policies and procedures to ensure spending is in line with its mission and to ensure potential conflicts of interest are appropriately handled and disclosed.
FRLP was established as a nonprofit in 1946 and is overseen by an 11-member board of directors responsible for managing its property and business. FRLP previously leased its premises from the Commonwealth under a 50-year lease agreement, which ended in April 2014. FRLP is currently a tenant at will and negotiating a new agreement with the Commonwealth through MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, which oversees day-to-day management of the pier on behalf of the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
We contacted Fall River Line Pier, Inc. concerning the audit and have not heard back at the time of publication.