Letter: Questioning The Fiscal Fitness

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In the article “Town’s Fiscal Fitness Pronounced Fit” by Frank Rizzo, the Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor claims to have worked to “bring back the trust, and create a new day in Oyster Bay.” The supervisor states that an independent audit from 2018 suggests that the TOB fiscal outlook is much improved. This is a finding he seems to take much credit for. Unfortunately, the data suggests otherwise.

For example, the supervisor states that he has saved the taxpayers money through a large payroll reduction of $11 million in full-time salaries over a three year period. He neglects to mention that during the same time period, he significantly increased the part-time payroll. The result for taxpayers is that there was a total increase in payroll for 2018. In addition, in January of 2018, the town board approved raises totaling $734,449.00 for 87 employees. When asked about this decision considering the economic hardship for the town, the rationale provided was that these raises were needed to address pay inequity among women. The reality was that the majority of these raises were allotted to men and the average pay raise was higher for men than women.

The independent auditors have issued a qualified opinion since 2013 in reference to a $32.5 million land sale. The money received should be recorded as a liability and not shown as revenue as the sale was never finalized. Every independent audit report since 2013 has cited this as “going against normal accounting practices in the United States.” Despite these annual audits, the supervisor has never made the correction. As a matter of fact, when Oyster Bay Finance Director Robert Darienzo was asked about this following a July 17 press conference, he stated “Officials weren’t originally aware of the issues but have continued to consistently record the money this way.” The purchaser has recently commenced a lawsuit to recover the monies paid plus additional fees. Mr. Darienzo indicated that the town could issue debt to pay for this settlement, once again shifting the burden of their mismanagement to the taxpayers. The Town of Oyster Bay has a long history of misleading taxpayers and providing data in a ‘smoke and mirrors’ manner. Despite the claim that there is a “new day in Oyster Bay,” it seems the same old system is still in place.

—Melissa McCardle
McCardle is a candidate for Town of Oyster Bay council.

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