NIFA asks state to audit Nassau County

Timothy Meyer And John Santa

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority requested last week that state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office conduct an audit of Nassau County’s procedures in awarding professional contracts and paying for services rendered by non-profit organizations.

At a public meeting last Thursday in Mineola, NIFA Chairman Ronald Stack and several other board members said the authority had found “certain irregularities” in late payments the county made to local charitable organizations.

NIFA officials said the authority also has yet to receive contracts for outside law firms that have done millions of dollars in work for the county.

After assuming control of the county’s finances last January, NIFA was required to review any contract for $50,000 or more.

Stack said that as a result of the irregularities NIFA had asked DiNapoli’s office to conduct an audit.

NIFA board member George Marlin said during the meeting that he was concerned with the county’s “lack of transparency.”

Last week, the county approved a budget transfer of $6.8 million to the county attorney’s office to pay outside contractors. The payment was more than $2 million over what the county had originally budgeted.

Brian Nevin, a senior policy advisor to Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, said the county has its own oversight practices in place. But he said the county executive welcomed any help in reviewing county contracts.

“There’s no government that has more oversight than Nassau County, where all contracts are approved by a 19-member legislative body, the (county) Comptroller, Independent Office of Budget and Review,and NIFA prior to execution by the County Executive,” Nevin said. “Additional oversight is always welcome.”

Earlier in the year, local not-for-profit agencies such as the Family and Children’s Association, whose locations include Mineola, and the Manhasset Great Neck Economic Opportunities Council were nearly forced to shut down when contracts they had with the county were delayed by upwards of six months. Many Agencies were not reimbursed by the comptroller’s office for up to six months after spending money that was contractually obligated to them.

Both Nassau County’s executive office and the county comptroller’s office blamed one another and NIFA for the delays.

The agencies, which provide social services such as Head Start programs and after-school programs for low-income families, expressed concern then on how difficult it was to run their programs without getting clarification on why their claims were being delayed.

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos said in August he would conduct an audit of the payments to the not-for-profits in “record” time.”

Jostyn Hernandez, director of communications for the comptroller’s office, said the audit began in August and should be released after the new year.

“The reason for it coming out in January is we really wanted to make sure everything was accurate before releasing the information,” Hernandez said. “You could say it is a similar audit that NIFA asked the state to do in reference to examining the county’s procedures with the non-for-profit contracts. We will of course share whatever information we find with the state should they request it.”

The county provides services such as foster care, juvenile delinquent programs, family services, care for senior citizens and other related programs.

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Timothy Meyer And John Santa

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