Dem council members block vote to grant fiscal impact statements by director of finance

Dem council members block vote to grant fiscal impact statements by director of finance
Town of North Hempstead councilmembers listen to community input regarding the Hillside Islamic Center site plan. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

The North Hempstead Town Board rejected a resolution that would require fiscal impact statements for board resolutions after half of the present council abstained due to dissatisfaction with the resolution as presented.

The fiscal impact statements would have provided details regarding the costs of certain resolutions addressed by the town council prior to being passed.

Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena presented the resolution to provide “the town board and the taxpayers a better idea of how the town is spending taxpayer money,” she said during the meeting.

“Requiring a preparation of fiscal impact statements before action is taken by the town board is a proactive step to protect taxpayer dollars and help illustrate the fiscal implications of the items that come before the town board before we decide to act on them,” DeSena said.

The fiscal impact statements would have been reviewed by the director of finance, a position within the supervisor’s office that is appointed by the supervisor. This was the main concern of many of the board members who voted to abstain.

Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey said that while transparency and fiscal responsibility are a high priority of all board members, she was concerned with granting the responsibility to the director of finance.

“This draft does the opposite of what the supervisor claims she wants to accomplish,” Lurvey said. “It shifts the responsibility from the town’s comptroller, which the entire town approves and the entire town board unanimously voted for to the supervisor’s hand-picked finance director. It is the opposite of transparency.”

Town Councilman Robert Troiano said DeSena is seeking to be the “ultimate arbiter” of projects and the determining of their costs and should not be a responsibility of her office.

Troiano suggested that the fiscal impact statements be the responsibility of the town comptroller, who he said works for the entire town council whereas the director of finance only reports to the supervisor.

DeSena defended giving responsibility to the director of finance. She said the director of finance is responsible for fiscal impact statements in other towns.

She noted that the director of finance served as the town’s comptroller for nine months.

“To now say he is not an appropriate person to do this job is really ridiculous,” DeSena said.

While he said the legislation is faulty, Troiano voted to abstain on the matters as he is overall not against the concept of fiscal impact statements.

Tow of the board’s other Democrats – Lurvey and Town Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte – also voted to abstain on the resolution, effectively blocking the vote. Democrat Councilman Peter Zuckerman was not present for the vote.

Republican Councilmen Dennis Walsh and David Adhami joined DeSena in voting to approve the resolution.

DeSena said that the board claims to want fiscal transparency, but said they won’t work for it.

“For me to do my job, and for the public to be informed, we have to be transparent, we have to reveal the budget impact of what we’re voting on” DeSena said.

She said her next step would be to propose the resolution again. She said she hoped that with more interest from the public, the board would vote to pass the resolution.

The board also voted to approve renaming a portion of Wilson Boulevard in New Hyde Park, from the corner of Herricks Road to the intersection of Devonshire Drive, as Detective Stuart Fishkin Boulevard.

The street is named after local NYPD detective Stuart Fishkin who died in 2015 after a battle with cancer that his friends and family said was the result of debris he handled after the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Several of his NYPD colleagues and friends spoke during the meeting, choking back tears, to share stories about Fishkin who was described as a big teddy bear who was extremely generous and had a heart of gold.

His daughter Amanda Fishkin said that having the street named after her dad will be a blessing for her family which resides on the street.

“His legacy lives on through my brother and my sister and I, along with my amazing, strong, resilient mom,” Fishkin said.

The board also approved a site plan review of a new BMW automobile dealership in Manhasset.

The dealership would be located at the former Sunset Chapel site, which would be demolished.

The BMW dealership would be two stories with a lower level, featuring a sales floor and offices, a car display in front and new car storage.

The developers appeared before the town’s board of zoning appeals in February which granted the development a conditional use permit and variances.

The board also heard over an hour-long discussion regarding the site plan review for an expansion of the Hillside Islamic Center in New Hyde Park, which is looking to add a third story to its building.

Multiple neighbors of the Islamic center came forward to speak on the challenges of living nearby, which included congested street parking, litter and issues of noise.

No decision was made on the matter and further discussion will be held at the board’s next meeting on July 11.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here