North Hempstead tables budget vote, meeting set for Monday night on election eve

North Hempstead tables budget vote, meeting set for Monday night on election eve
The North Hempstead Town Board was expected to vote on the 2024 budget on Thursday, Nov. 2. (Photo by Karina Kovac)

The North Hempstead Town Board voted to table resolutions approving the 2024 budget to a later date Thursday night to allow sufficient notice to the public on budget corrections made Thursday.

The board also voted to unanimously approve amendments submitted by Council Member Veronica Lurvey to the $163.8 million budget, which includes $4.25 million more for the town’s Highway Department. 

The seven-member board is set to meet Monday night at 8 p.m., one day before Election Day.

It has been common practice for the North Hempstead Town Board to approve a final budget before Election Day since at least ex-Supervisor Judi Bosworth’s administration began in 2014.

North Hempstead Director of Governmental Research Steven Pollack said corrections that were sent to the town board on Oct. 27 and Nov. 1 were originally incorrect and resubmitted them with additions to the corrections this week, making them completely accurate.

The resubmitted corrections were not posted on the town’s website for 24 hours by the beginning of the meeting Thursday, so the budget was unable to be voted on according to Robert’s Rules of Order, which dictates meetings. 

Pollack, who has worked for the town for 12 years and is in an apolitical position, apologized for the error and said he reported it to the board immediately when he found out. 

“I am attempting to do a process without many staff members and I am doing the best I absolutely can,” Pollack said. “That was not done to deceive you or provide incorrect information purposefully.”

The town’s Comptroller Department for two budget seasons has been vacant. Kristen Schwaner, the comptroller appointed by the town earlier this year, resigned unexpectedly this August.

The town has also been without two deputy comptrollers and Finance Director Paul Wood has been the acting comptroller during the budget process. 

The corrections made to the budget were not amendments, but updates to the budget based on new information, fixing typographical errors and fixing corrections between the tentative and preliminary budgets. North Hempstead Town Attorney John Chiara alerted Wood to the mistake Thursday morning who then told Pollack in order to get the correct information updated to the town’s website. 

Republican Supervisor Jennifer DeSena attempted to set meeting dates for Sunday and Monday at different times, which were not approved by the four Democrats who abstained when brought to a vote. 

Democrat Council Member Robert Troiano said he was not willing to attend a town board meeting on Sunday due to it being a Sabbath day for himself and others in the town.

Troiano, who works for the Nassau County Board of Elections, added he cannot attend a meeting on Monday due to scheduling conflicts. Other Democrats agreed that the budget vote should not be voted on unless all members of the Town Board were present.

To hold an official meeting on Monday, a quorum of four members would have to be present at the meeting. To untable resolutions on an agenda, there needs to be a majority vote, which the Democrats hold.

Lurvey’s office sent a press release hours after the meeting Thursday night accusing DeSena’s administration of attempting to “covertly and illegally swap” the budget corrections. She also stated that the Democrats are actively working to reschedule the budget vote promptly.

“This unforeseen turn of events has understandably caused frustration and concern among board members and residents, who were eagerly awaiting the resolution of the budget matters,” Lurvey said in a statement. “The Town Board has taken swift action to rectify the situation and ensure that the budget process is conducted with transparency and in adherence to the State’s legal regulations.”

DeSena in a statement to Blank Slate Media defended Pollack and accused the Town Board Democrats of playing politics.

“For the second year in a row, Councilwoman Lurvey and her colleagues in the majority have decided to play politics with our Town Budget at the 11th hour. Beyond this, their actions in vilifying one of our union employees for the simple mistake of uploading the wrong file are truly despicable and show have far they are willing to go to score political points ahead of Election Day.”

She added, “I am absolutely appalled that Councilwoman Lurvey is accusing the same union worker (who owned up to his mistake and asked for forgiveness) of ‘covertly and illegally’ working to correct this mistake in an expedient manner.  While unfortunate, these actions fit the majority’s recent pattern of anti-union behavior, as they have refused to vote on a fairly negotiated contract for our union members. I remain committed to delivering a timely budget replete with tax relief, as I truly believe our residents deserve to know the position of their elected officials before they enter the voting booth.”

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

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