North Hempstead comptroller resigns after 4 months

North Hempstead comptroller resigns after 4 months
Ex-North Hempstead Comptroller Kristen Schwaner. (Photo courtesy of SightGrowthPartners)

North Hempstead Comptroller Kristen Schwaner resigned from her position Friday, effectively immediately, according to town officials.

Schwaner, who was set to make $160,000 this year, was unanimously appointed to the role in April after an extensive bipartisan search process.

The comptroller position had been left vacant before then since January 2022, when Tania Orenstein resigned alongside the town’s deputy comptroller. 

Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said it will be a challenge to again present a tentative budget without a full-time comptroller

“Kristen’s resignation is certainly a disappointing turn of events, as she was proving herself to be an excellent comptroller and I was looking forward to crafting next year’s budget with her on my team,” DeSena said in a statement. 

The supervisor added that she is committed to offering a record-setting tax cut with her tentative budget this fall.

“Our comptroller will be missed and undoubtedly preparing a budget without her will again present some challenges, but I successfully did it last year while offering the largest tax cut in Town history, and I will be offering another record-setting tax cut for our residents next month when I submit my tentative budget for 2024,” DeSena said.

Last October, DeSena submitted amendment proposals to her original $158.4 million budget that included an 11% tax cut that did not pass in a board vote.

The seven-member board then unanimously passed amendments from Council Member Veronica Lurvey that included a 5% tax cut.

Prior to Schwaner’s appointment, Finance Director Paul Wood was appointed interim comptroller. The town board can appoint Schwaner’s replacement, which can include someone outside the town, at a town board meeting, which is currently scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5. 

DeSena has to submit a tentative budget to the other six members of the town board by the end of September. Last year, budget hearings were held in October with the final vote to approve being held in November prior to Election Day. 

This year’s schedule will be set at the Sept. 5 meeting.

Schwaner’s resignation comes after the town board accepted at their last meeting the resignation of Moira La Barbera, the director of purchasing. 

Lurvey said two major resignations around the same time are “highly unusual.” 

“It’s really concerning for the functioning of the town,” Lurvey said. “I’m not sure what’s going on.”

The council member said she first heard of Schwaner’s absence this week when an email she sent came back with an automated response that she’s no longer with the town. Lurvey added tha she does not know the circumstances of Schwaner’s resignation. 

North Hempstead’s current budget for the year is approximately $163 million. The town also has maintained an Aaa bond rating for 13 years, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Efforts to reach Schwaner and La Barbera for comments were unavailing.

A previous version of this story was published. It has since been updated.

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