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West Haven city council votes "no confidence" in Mayor Nancy Rossi

The vote was unanimous at a city council meeting Monday evening

WEST HAVEN, Conn. — West Haven's city council voted "no confidence" in Mayor Nancy Rossi Monday evening. This comes amid growing calls for her resignation following an audit that revealed the city misused nearly $900,000 of the COVID-19 relief funds it received.

Rossi did not attend Monday evening's meeting. The town council announced she had a prior commitment related to her job, that she had made months ago. She is expected to return Friday.

Dozens of people attended the meeting, speaking out about the audit and the fallout.

"These people want justice, they want answers and we're not getting answers," one resident said.

The audit found that some of that money was used to pay employees for overtime, a 20-piece marching band, and a shower remodeling project.

"The CohnReznik audit was a slap to the face to the taxpayers of West Haven," said a resident.

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The city's new finance director, Scott Jackson, took questions from the council. He said there are many priorities to try to get the city back on track.

"It changes about every 10 minutes. And I don't mean to be flippant in that answer, but you know it's the little things. If you don't pay vendors on time, then they stop bidding and working with you," he said.

The city could be placed on placed even tighter supervision by the state's Municipal Accountability Review Board. Their recommendation is expected this week.

RELATED: West Haven demonstrators call for mayor’s resignation

Mayor Rossi did not respond for comment Monday evening, but did release a statement on the audit last week that reads:

"I carefully reviewed the audit report over the weekend that was submitted by CohnReznick on Friday, April 1. I understand the outrage from the community, and quite honestly, I am equally outraged. This is embarrassing to West Haven. Proper financial controls have been a problem and ignored in our city for decades. I have made a real effort and some progress on improving the city’s control structure, but, admittedly, not fast enough. I take full responsibility as mayor, but at the same time, I make the commitment to our residents that I will make any needed changes and will facilitate the implementation of any additional financial controls necessary to ensure that something like this never happens again. Some of the issues in the audit report have already been addressed, and we will be drafting and implementing additional controls to satisfy the other noted deficiencies soon. I have a meeting with the MARB tomorrow where we will discuss a comprehensive correction plan — to not only institute additional controls but submit the necessary documentation to validate the COVID-19 expenditures that were not approved for reimbursement. In the end, I believe the city will qualify and receive reimbursement for most of the COVID-19-related expenditures incurred. Finance Director Scott D. Jackson will be addressing the City Council at its next meeting to update members on immediate steps taken and my corrective action plan moving forward."

RELATED: State board to recommend more oversight of West Haven's finances

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at gmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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