Nassau comptroller to audit N. Hempstead Building Department

Nassau comptroller to audit N. Hempstead Building Department
The Nassau County Comptroller's office announced they will perform an audit into the North Hempstead Building Department. (Photo courtesy of the office of the supervisor)

The Town of North Hempstead’s Building Department will be undergoing an audit, courtesy of the Nassau County Comptroller’s Office.

The review will include, but not be limited to, an examination of the department’s operations and procedures, the internal control environment, performance monitoring and regulatory compliance.

Audit Supervisor Blaine Griffin will be conducting the review that will encompass personnel interviews, documenting workflow, data analysis and compliance testing, among other things. 

The period of review will be from Jan. 1, 2020 to the present time. 

Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said in a statement she has made repairing the Building Department her top priority.

“I am pleased that the Nassau County Comptroller’s Office has completed their independent review of my request to audit the Town’s Building Department and will be commencing the audit process beginning this week,” DeSena said. “Since my first day in office, I have made rehabilitating the Building Department my No. 1 priority and this independent and impartial assessment will undoubtedly cut to the core of the problems that have been plaguing the Building Department for years.”

 She added, “When this process is complete, the results of this audit will help protect our residents and business owners and guide the transformation of our Building Department from deeply flawed and problematic into the most efficient and well-run Building Department on Long Island.”

The Building Department has long been a focus of DeSena and town government. 

On July 11, DeSena announced that she sent a letter to Nassau Comptroller Elaine Philips requesting an audit following a review of town operations since she took office earlier this year. 

DeSena spoke alongside Democratic Councilmembers Marianna Dalimonte and Veronica Lurvey, who both supported the call for an audit, at a news conference.  

“I welcome the county comptroller’s fiscal audit team and look forward to their financial findings,” Lurvey said. “I look forward to seeing the results of this audit as there is always room for improvement, be it financial with the help of the comptroller, or operationally based on the decisions we make as Town Board members.”

This year the Town Board has passed numerous pieces of bipartisan legislation that focus on Building Department operations.

At the Aug. 4 meeting, Town Board members unanimously approved changes to the department’s expedited permit review process that removes the Town Board’s ability to override the department’s decisions. 

The new process now allows the town’s Building Department and Planning Department commissioners to make decisions on expedited permit requests within five business days. 

The commissioners will also have added criteria to review requests before determining whether or not they should be granted an expedited permit. 

Previously, applicants had to meet at least one of four criteria, which included accommodating emergency situations, furthering public interests like job creation or economic development, providing an essential service or avoiding extreme financial hardship to the applicant, among others. 

Additional criteria on top of the previous four now include the urgency of the situation, potential danger to property and requests relating to improved access for persons with mobility impairments or disabilities, among others. 

 The new legislation differs slightly from the original legislation proposed by DeSena in April, which mandated the town’s Building Department commissioner, John Niewender, to make a decision on expedited permits within seven days and remove the Town Board’s ability to override the department’s decisions. The reform was initially blocked by Democrats and reintroduced at a later meeting following changes in wording that avoided potential legal obstacles. 

Since then, DeSena and Lurvey have worked together on legislation to overhaul the expedited permit process. 

The Town Board also unanimously passed a resolution this year that requires monthly reports from the Building Department to be given to the Town Board as opposed to annually.

At the July press conference, Lurvey detailed additional improvements the Building Department has seen since she was elected over three years ago, including more staff hires, offering extended hours to employees and installing the Citizenserve software platform.

North Hempstead is the first municipality in the state to use Citizenserve, which provides online Building Department services for residents and can be accessed at

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