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Suffolk County

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A routine speeding stop in Huntington yielded much greater results over the holiday weekend when Suffolk County police arrested Bayshore man Mohamed Khan for driving while intoxicated, among other charges, authorities said.

Suffolk County Police Highway Patrol Officer Robert Scudellari initially flashed his lights behind Khan, 42, for speeding on the eastbound Long Island Expressway between exits 51 and 52 around 1:50 a.m. on July 3, police said. The officer soon learned that Khan, who was driving a 2013 Kia, was also under the influence of alcohol and his license had been revoked, the Suffolk County Police Department said.

Mohamed Khan is accused of driving while intoxicated, among other charges. Photo from SCPD
Mohamed Khan is accused of driving while intoxicated, among other charges. Photo from SCPD

Police also said the man was in violation of his New York State driver’s license restriction that he operate a motor vehicle only if it is equipped with an ignition interlock device, cops said.

Khan was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle without an interlock device, police said. He was also charged with criminal contempt in the second degree for violating a court order that stipulated he refrain from consuming alcohol, cops said.

The Suffolk County Police Department also said the man had an outstanding warrant for committing the same offence back in January, and had collected seven traffic tickets for vehicle and traffic law violations by the time of his arrest.

His attorney could not be reached for comment.

Double ‘O’ Landscaping Inc. owner Richard Orvieto. Photo from the attorney general's office

Suffolk County officials arrested Richard Orvieto, 55, of Stony Brook on Tuesday and charged him with failing to pay overtime to workers.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Orvieto, the owner and operator of Double “O” Landscaping Inc., committed wage theft while operating his Stony Brook-based business.

From Aug. 24, 2011, to Jan. 31, 2014, Orvieto hired workers and allegedly neglected to pay them overtime, according to a criminal complaint. Toward the end of 2013 Orvieto fired three of these employees and neglected to pay them for their final week at the company, the attorney general said.

The Attorney General’s office said Orvieto was supposed to pay his employees one and one half times their regular pay if they worked more than 40 hours a week. The three unidentified employees who were fired allegedly worked around 20 hours of overtime per week and were not compensated, Schneiderman said.

Orvieto now owes these employees more than $13,000, according to the attorney general.

Orvieto is also charged with defrauding the state unemployment insurance system for paying wages in cash off the books. Schneiderman said he did not report the wages of two of the three former employees and several other workers to the state unemployment insurance fund for this quarterly period.

Double “O” Landscaping’s quarterly return files did not include the names of the fired employees consistently, the complaint said. For the quarterly return files, filed from July 31, 2012, to Jan. 31, 2014, did not include the names of the three fired workers, Schneiderman said.However, Orvieto’s name consistently appeared on these documents.

The landscape business owner “is also liable for unpaid unemployment insurance contributions, fraud penalties and interest to the state unemployment insurance system totaling more than $19,000,” the attorney general said in a press release.

Orvieto was arraigned on June 22 in the 1st District Court in Central Islip. His next court date was set for Aug. 25.

He faces felony charges for falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing both in the first degree. Orvieto also faces two unclassified misdemeanors for failure to pay wages under Labor Law Section 198-a(1) and Willful Failure to Pay Unemployment Insurance Contributions. If convicted, he faces maximum jail sentence of four years.

Orvieto and his company will also “face maximum fines, in addition to restitution, of $20,000 for each count.”

Orvieto’s defense attorney, Paul Kalker of Hauppauge, was unavailable for comment.

Under New York law, employers are required “to pay wages no later than seven days after the end of the week when the wages were earned and to report all wages paid to employees on quarterly tax filings with the state,” according to the attorney general’s office.

Schneiderman was unavailable for further comment but said in the press release that protecting hardworking New York employees is a priority.

“My office will take aggressive action, including criminal charges, where appropriate, against business workers who fail to properly compensate their workers, and who try to avoid other laws by paying workers off the books,” Schneiderman said.

Legislator Kara Hahn, center, speaks about her domestic violence bill as officials look on. Photo by Phil Corso

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) celebrated another milestone victory this week as her most recent efforts to curb domestic violence led to the rehiring of three outreach precinct project caseworkers months after being laid off.

The Long Island Against Domestic Violence non-for-profit organization, which provides domestic violence caseworkers in Suffolk County, did not receive a federal grant to fully staff their outreach project in March, and as a result, was forced to lay off four workers. And while LIADV secured private funding, allowing the rehire of one of the four caseworkers in May, Hahn’s recently passed budget amendment will now provide the organization with $79,000 to rehire the remaining three caseworkers this year.

Although the organization received the federal grant last year, according to Colleen Merlo, executive director of LIADV, its application the following year was denied. Its advocacy department includes seven precinct advocates, two of whom are also full-time court advocates. Victims in need still had the option of calling the organization’s 24-hour hotline at (631) 666-8833 during this time period, however, in the caseworkers’ absence.

Merlo also said the organization reapplied for this same federal grant, since the applications were available under the new funding cycle. The organization will not know if it received the federal grant until October.

Meanwhile, the $79,000 will last the non-for-profit organization until December of this year, Merlo said.

Hahn, alongside Legislators Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) and Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) sponsored this bill amendment, which County Executive Steve Bellone (D) has until July 16 to sign. For Hahn, who said she is a domestic violence survivor herself, this budget amendment will not only help the non-for-profit organization, but also the individuals who benefit from its services.

“I want to help victims get themselves out of violent situations,” Hahn said during a phone interview. While she said she doubts that domestic violence will disappear completely, Hahn said she wants to help these victims know their risks and find advocacy in their times of need.

This was Hahn’s fourth piece of domestic violence legislation to see validation through the county Legislature. Although she would not disclose what is next on her domestic violence agenda, Hahn said Suffolk County is “on the cutting edge” of protecting domestic violence victims. She also said the county will continue to support organizations at the frontline of this issue.

Merlo said non-for-profit organizations like LIADV need funding from multiple levels to successfully provide their services.

“I’m appreciative of the budget amendment,” Merlo said during a phone interview. “But the truth of the matter is that we need to provide our services and we rely on not just the government but private donors as well.”

Environmental advocates call for the banning of microbeads in order to protect waterways like the Long Island Sound. from left, Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Dr. Larry Swanson of Stony Brook University, Dr. Artie Kopelman of Coastal Research Education Society Long Island, George Hoffman of Setauket Harbor Protection Committee, Rob Weltner of Operation SPLASH, Matt Grove of Surfrider, Enrico Nardone of Seatuck Environmental, and Katie Muether of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society. Photo from Maureen Murphy

When it comes to water pollution, size does not matter.

That’s why a group of environmental advocates gathered along the shoreline of the Long Island Sound in Stony Brook last week to call for state legislation that would ban the tiny but potentially harmful microbeads in personal care products.

The rally was organized to coincide with June 8’s World Oceans Day and zeroed in on the Microbead-Free Waters Act, which would ban personal care products made with the tiny plastic pellets called microbeads, which advocates said are hurting waterways and wildlife because New York’s wastewater treatment plants are not equipped to filter them prior to the water’s release into the environment.

The legislation passed the Assembly in April but has remained idle in the Senate.

The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Republican Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Tom O’Mara (R-Big Flats), with 37 cosponsors — a total that surpasses the 32 votes it needs to pass.

William Cooke, director of government relations for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, helped orchestrate the rally and called on Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) to use his new role as majority leader to help ensure a microbead ban passes before legislative session ends June 17.

“While microbeads are small, the problem they are creating is very large,” Cooke said. “The solution is unbelievably simple and absolutely free. The answer is to take them out of our products now. This legislation currently has more support than is needed to pass. The only question is will the new Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan allow it to move forward.”

The New York State Attorney General reported that 19 tons of plastic microbeads enter the wastewater stream in New York annually, and the tiny beads are passing through treatment plants on Long Island and throughout the state. Plastic microbeads in state waters accumulate toxins, are consumed by fish, and can work their way up the food chain, putting public health at risk.

“The Microbead-Free Waters Act has a clear pathway to passage. If it’s not brought up for a vote, it’s a clear sign that industry has once again silenced the majority of New York’s state senators,” said Saima Anjam, environmental health director at Environmental Advocates of New York, who was at the rally. “New Yorkers expect more from new leadership. … Senators Flanagan and O’Mara need to allow a simple up or down vote on bills supported by a majority of members.”

Flanagan’s office declined to comment on the matter.

Late last year, Suffolk County committed to studying the health and economic impacts of banning microbeads on the county level to the praise of county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who argued that Suffolk needed to follow the likes of municipalities like Illinois, which was the first state to outright ban the sale of cosmetics containing plastic microbeads.

“On a macro level, there is no doubt that microbeads are finding their way into our nation’s rivers, lakes and oceans,” said Hahn, chairwoman of the Legislature’s Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee. “What we need to know is to what extent, locally, these additives [impact] our environment and, if corrective action is needed, what ramifications would be expected.”

Suffolk officials discuss environmental issues facing Long Island after thousands of dead fish washed ashore in Riverhead. Photo by Alex Petroski

The estimated nearly 100,000 dead bunker fish that have washed ashore in Riverhead may seem astounding, but it wasn’t all that surprising to the panel of experts brought before the Suffolk County Health Committee on Thursday.

In late May, the thousands of dead bunker fish, formally known as Atlantic menhaden fish, began appearing in the Peconic Estuary, an area situated between the North and South Forks of Long Island. According to a June 2 press release from the Peconic Estuary Program, the bunker fish died as a result of low dissolved oxygen in the water. This shortage of oxygen is called hypoxia.

Walter Dawydiak, director of the county’s environmental quality division, who serves on the panel, which was organized by the health committee chairman, Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), testified that the number of dead fish was at or approaching 100,000.

“This one is bigger and worse than any,” Dawydiak said.

According to the PEP, which is part of the National Estuary Program and seeks to conserve the estuary, bunker are filter-feeding fish and an important food source for many predatory fish, including striped bass and blue fish.

Alison Branco, the program’s director, said the fish are likely being chased into shallow waters by predators, but are dying because of low dissolved oxygen levels in the waters. In addition, an algae bloom is contributing to the low levels and is fueled by excess nitrogen loading. Much of that nitrogen comes from septic systems, sewage treatment plants and fertilizer use.

“We’ve reach a point where this kind of hypoxia was run of the mill. We expect it every summer,” Branco, who also served as a panelist, said following the hearing.

While magnitude of the fish kill was astounding, the experts said they weren’t so surprised that it happened.

“I definitely thought it could happen at any time,” Christopher Gobler, a biologist at Stony Brook University, said in a one-on-one interview after the panel hearing. “There’s been an oxygen problem there all along.”

Gobler called it largest fish kill he’d seen in 20 years.

According to panel members, the worst of the fish kill occurred between May 27 and May 30.

Branco did suggest that this shocking environmental event could be turned into a positive if the right measures are taken sooner rather than later.

“It’s always shocking to see a fish kill,” she said. “As much as we don’t want to have things like that happen I think the silver lining is that it did capture the public’s attention.”

Prevention of a fish kill this large is possible, according to Branco. While preventing the harmful algal blooms is not possible, reducing the frequency and severity can be done if the amount of nitrogen in the coastal water supply is controlled.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, an environmental policy advocacy group, agreed that curtailing the amount of nitrogen in the water is the easiest and most impactful way for prevention of a fish kill of this magnitude.

“The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step,” Esposito said in response to a question about the daunting task of fixing the Island’s sewage treatment techniques and facilities on a limited budget.

Esposito described the roughly $5 million from New York State, which was allotted to Suffolk County to deal with cleaning the coastal water supply, as seed money. Esposito and Branco both said they believe the commitment of time and money required to solve the nitrogen problem in the water supply will be vast.

“We can do this,” she said. “We have to do it. We have no choice.”

Councilman Neil Foley, left, and Supervisor Ed Romaine stand by the jetty where a Selden man allegedly crashed his boat and then fled the scene. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Alex Petroski

Town and county officials aren’t taking boating safety lightly, and are urging residents to take precautions while out on the water this summer.

Boating safety was the topic of discussion at a press conference held at the Sandspit Marina in Patchogue Thursday, following a hit-and-run incident on May 24.  Mark Tricarico, 31, of Selden, was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a boating accident involving injury, according to a Suffolk County Police department press release.

Tricarico allegedly crashed a 23-foot boat into the west jetty at the entrance of the Patchogue River on the night of the 24th. One passenger was treated for minor injuries. Tricarico could not be reached for comment.

“If everyone follows safe boating procedures, most accidents can be prevented,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said on Thursday, just yards away from the site of the incident.

June and July are typically the busiest boating months of the year on Long Island, and Romaine along with Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau Deputy Inspector Ed Vitale urged boaters to be aware of boating laws in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the events of May 24.

From left, Assistant Deputy County Executive Tim Sini; Police Marine Bureau Deputy Inspector Ed Vitale; Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine; and Brookhaven Councilman Neil Foley at a press conference on boating safety. Photo by Alex Petroski
From left, Assistant Deputy County Executive Tim Sini; Police Marine Bureau Deputy Inspector Ed Vitale; Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine; and Brookhaven Councilman Neil Foley at a press conference on boating safety. Photo by Alex Petroski

Romaine and Vitale also reiterated some general boating safety precautions, like avoiding alcohol while operating a boat, being aware of weather forecasts and following paths set by buoys.

“Stay in the navigable channels,” Romaine said. “Understand what the buoys are for.”

Operating boats while intoxicated was a point everyone touched on.

“You don’t see it that often until you see a boat up on the rocks,” Jesse Mentzel, a bay constable, said in a one on one interview.  “It happens, and they could hit another boat just as easily.”

Assistant Deputy County Executive Tim Sini attended the press conference on behalf of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D).

“We want to make one thing clear—boating while intoxicated will not be tolerated in Suffolk County,” Sini said.

Sini added that there would be checkpoints and patrols to monitor the waterways and ensure that everyone remains safe this summer.

Some additional safety precautions suggested by Romaine and Vitale included a boating course approved by the U.S. Coast Guard as well as a swiming and first-aid course, operating at safe speeds, and designating an assistant skipper in case you are injured or otherwise unable to assume command of the vessel.

“The water can be a very hostile environment,” Vitale said.  “It’s a beautiful looking place and it is truly, but it can be very hostile to people.  You have to pay attention.  You have to be aware of the weather.  You have to be aware of the currents.  This is something that every now and then people get out on the water and they just don’t get it.”

Huntington's Katie Nugent leads the relay pack on the way to her first-place finish for the Suffolk Division II title. Photo by Mike Connell

Every point counted. Literally.

The Huntington girls’ track and field team needed contributions from its sprinters and hurdlers, distance runners and field event specialists to put it in a position to overtake East Islip in the final event and lift the Blue Devils to their first-ever Suffolk County Division II spring championship last Thursday at Northport High School.

Huntington nipped East Islip in the final team standings by a mere two points, 91-89. The outcome wasn’t decided until 4×400-meter relay anchor Katie Nugent’s all-out sprint in the final 100 meters of that race produced a first-place finish and gave the Blue Devils the title they have coveted all spring.

“What a meet!” Huntington head coach Shawn Anderson said. “That was one of the most exciting meets I have ever been a part of, especially since we were in the mix of it. As a coach, I knew that we were prepared, but it was up to the athletes to rise to the occasion and they proved why they were the best team out there today in Division II. [East Islip] pushed us all the way to the end.”

Huntington trailed East Islip heading into the shot put and the relays, 75-66, but Betty Huitt came up big for the team in shot put, shattering her previous personal best with a throw that measured 34-8 1/2, to place fourth and capture four team points, to inch the Blue Devils closer to the top.

Alexandra Koumas leaps over the hurdle for Huntington. Photo by Darin Reed
Alexandra Koumas leaps over the hurdle for Huntington. Photo by Darin Reed

In the 4×800 relay, the team of Nugent, Nicole Abbondandelo, Alexandra Koumas and Suzie Petryk turned in a gutty performance. The foursome notched a winning time of 9 minutes, 38.65 seconds, just shy of their best this spring, but notable in light of the fact that most of athletes had run two prior races, including Koumas, who only had about 30 minutes rest after her 400 hurdles final. East Islip took third in the race.

The 4×100 relay was next, and the Blue Devils team of Samantha Glicker, Lexi Mills, Maliyah Davis-Coddington and Marina Ruzic earned Huntington a valuable point with a sixth place finish in 52.47 seconds. East Islip took second in the race.

As Huntington’s 4×400 relay team of Nugent, Anna Gulizio, Latoya Shand and Alexis Pastorelli took the track, Anderson knew that a victory in the race would give the Blue Devils the Suffolk Division II title. A second place finish would give the team a tie in the standings with East Islip and a third place finish would mean letting the county crown slip through their collective fingers.

The team’s splits of 59.6, 58.5, 1:02.9 and 58.6 produced a new school record of 3:59.64.

“We were in second going into the final leg,” Anderson said. Nugent accelerated going into the final turn and caught West Babylon at the top of the stretch. It was an all-out sprint in the final 100 meters, producing a victory by a mere 65/100ths of a second.

“It was one of the most intense races I have seen, and with the win, came the title,” Anderson said. Since East Islip didn’t have a team running in the race, they were unable to score any points, while Huntington’s finish allowed it to overcome its deficit.

In other action, Petryk and Nugent finished first and second, respectively, in the 800. Petryk covered the distance in an efficient time of 2:16.18. Nugent just edged out the third place finisher from Half Hollow Hills West by 4/100ths of a second, with a personal best time of 2:19.22.

In the 400 hurdles, Koumas set a new Huntington record by posting a time of 1:05.06 as she swept across the finish line in second place. In the 3,000, Abbondandelo finished third after a “super-fast start,” Anderson said.

The freshman crossed the line in 10:44.99.

Nina Cartwright threw a personal best distance of 91-2, just missing a top six finish in discus.

Petryk cruised to victory in 7:12.80 in the 2,000 steeplechase, and Pastorelli finished fifth, in 7:43.90, a new personal best time. Petryk raced in the 1,500 soon after, and finished second in 4:52.54, making sure to save some energy for the all-important relay that was contested near the end of the competition. Abbondandelo placed fifth in a new personal best time of 4:58.96.

Shand finished fourth in 58.63 in the 400 dash.

“Latoya was an unsung hero for us as she ran four races on Tuesday and two races on Thursday for us,” Anderson said. “She’s quiet, yet fierce, and always lays it out on the track.”

Kayla Eidle gained the Blue Devils valuable points in the team standings with her fifth place finish in the 1,500 race walk, in 7:55.45. Cartwright cleared 9 feet in the pole vault, to finish in a tie for third place. Nugent notched a personal best 32-3 3/4 in shot put, when she launched three consecutive throws about 10 minutes prior to running in the 4×800 relay.

The Blue Devils are on a roll, winning the league and division titles, and Anderson hopes the good times roll into states.

“Each and every girl laid out their best efforts on the track and had some absolutely stellar performances,” Anderson said. “With such a historic day, it will be fun to see how we do at the state qualifier meet this Friday and Saturday at Port Jefferson.”

Suffolk Stop Bullying music video contest winners announced

A Mount Sinai Middle School student will share his original anti-bullying song with hundreds of people at Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker’s concert series this summer.

Jameson Wessels, a Mount Sinai eighth-grader, was named the winner of Anker’s (D-Mount Sinai) bullying awareness music video contest on Monday. Jameson and his friend Katie Gudzik created the anti-bullying video featuring the song — called “Why?” — that will be posted on the Suffolk Stop Bullying website.

First-place winner Jameson Wessels, left, poses with second-place winner Isabela Neves. Photo by Erika Karp
First-place winner Jameson Wessels, left, poses with second-place winner Isabela Neves. Photo by Erika Karp

The site, which launched last year, provides information and resources about bullying and anti-bullying efforts. Jameson also received a $500 prize from the North Shore Youth Council.

The video showcases music written and performed by Jameson and stars Katie as a victim of cyberbullying. Savannah Moore, another student, wrote the song’s lyrics.

Jameson said he hopes the music video will show others how sad bullying can make someone feel.

“I’ve been bullied in my life and I think that it’s wrong,” he said. “It happens more often than you think.”

Fellow Mount Sinai student Isabela Neves won second place for her original song, while teachers Sommer and Margie Marchand, of Marchand’s School of Dance in Miller Place, won third place for their dancers’ performance of Colbie Caillat’s “Try.”

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker announces the winners of an anti-bullying music video contest on Monday. Photo by Erika Karp
Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker announces the winners of an anti-bullying music video contest on Monday. Photo by Erika Karp

Mike DelGuidice, lead singer of Big Shot, a Billy Joel tribute band; Anthony Mingoia, drummer of pop punk band Patent Pending; and Danny “Enjetic” Rivera, of the Asking Myself Association, an anti-bullying organization, judged the entries.

“There are so many ways to get a message across and I think one of the most important ways is through creative music, and that is why we chose this type of forum,” Anker said.

DelGuidice, a Miller Place native, said bullying affected his life and now, as a father, he sees how bullying still affects kids.

“[I] just thought we could all gather together as a community and actually put a stop to it and do our best to keep our eyes on it,” DelGuidice said.

Jameson, who has been bullied, said bullying is in every community and parents and administrators can’t push the issue aside. He added that other students must take a stand and not be just a bystander when they witness bullying, which can be a hard thing to do.

“I think I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve gotten older, but it is still something many people struggle with, including me,” he said.

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The No.1-seeded Mount Sinai girls’ softball team topped No. 4 Islip, 5-2 Saturday, for the team’s first Suffolk County Class A title in school history.

Senior Cassandra Wilson pitched the first three innings and left with a 4-1 lead after freshman infielder Love Drumgole evened the score at 1-1 with a sacrifice fly in the first inning, followed by sophomore first baseman Angela Bukofsky’s RBI double in the bottom of the third and senior outfielder Emily Solomos two-run double right after.

Eighth-grade pitcher Julia Golino, who went four innings, entered the game with two Islip opponents on base and no outs in the fourth, and escaped the inning thanks to senior Julia Gallo’s leaping catch at second.

Mount Sinai, which is now 21-2, and finished the regular season at an almost perfect 17-1 to claim the League V title, moves on to Long Island championship game Friday at St. Joseph’s College at 3:30 p.m.

County Executive Steve Bellone cites increased savings for taxpayers

Steve Bellone, Barry Paul and John Kennedy, Jr. spotted at a recent press event. Photo from Suffolk County

The merger of the offices of Suffolk County treasurer and the Suffolk County comptroller is being moved up by two years — a move Executive Steve Bellone’s office claims will save taxpayers even more money than originally anticipated.

The treasurer’s office will be folded into the comptroller’s office on Jan. 1, 2016 instead of a planned 2018 deadline, and the groundwork for the transition has already begun, with changes in the treasurer’s office implemented as early as January this year.

A whopping 62 percent of Suffolk County voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum to combine the two offices in a vote , and ever since then, plans have been put into action to complete the merger.

Merging the departments is expected to save taxpayers more than $3 million, according to Bellone’s office in a statement. Moving the merger up by two years saves more money because the county can eliminate positions sooner. Also, implementing new human resources software will allow the county to realize more savings.

The merger includes abolishing the treasurer’s position, as well as two deputy treasurer positions. Five positions have already been eliminated from the treasurer’s office. These positions included staff members who had retired or left the office and were not replaced, since the positions were deemed no longer necessary. 

Interim Treasurer Barry Paul has been spearheading the merger, and it is the main reason he was brought into the position. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone nominated Paul to the post when previous Treasurer Angie Carpenter was named Islip Town supervisor and left the office in early January of this year.

Bellone has worked with Paul and Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr., whose two offices will become one. However, at first, Kennedy was not in favor of the merger. During Kennedy’s campaign for comptroller last year, he strongly opposed the referendum and the merger.

“I had concerns with the separation of functions and the new oversight of the two offices,” Kennedy said. Once he was elected into office and realized the public’s support for the move at the polls, Kennedy said he altered his point of view.

“I try to be guided by the will of my constituents, and they wanted to see consolidation so I am now on board,” Kennedy said.

Originally the merger was scheduled to be complete in January 2018, since Carpenter’s term as treasurer was from 2015 to 2017. Once Carpenter stepped down, there was an opportunity to bring on Paul and speed up the process.

Previously, Paul was a Bellone staffer, and once he finishes overseeing the merger of the treasurer’s office with the comptroller’s office, he will return to his post there. For Paul, the treasurer appointment was always a short-term assignment.

“All existing personnel from the treasurer’s office will go under Kennedy, and Kennedy has really embraced that,” Suffolk County Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider, who has worked on the merger as well, said in a phone interview. “This merger will save taxpayers money, while delivering better services.”

Another place that the treasurer’s office has been able to save money is with regards to a backlog of providing tax refunds. As of May 14, the backlog tax refunds were reduced by a third, coming down to 7,810, whereas over a month before, the number of backlog tax refunds was 11,830, according to Bellone’s office.

The backlog is expected to be completely eliminated by July, and will save the taxpayers more than a million dollars in reduced interests costs annually.

The new merged office will also host Munis software in the county’s IT system, which will save another $150,000 to $200,000 dollars. Munis is an integrated enterprise resource planning system that manages all core functions, including financials, human resources, citizen services and revenues.

In a statement, Paul said he has been following Bellone’s mandate to make the treasurer’s office as efficient as possible, and is confident in this timeline and the work his office has been doing to save taxpayer dollars.

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