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Roundup: Nassau audit errors require financial restatement

Nassau has issued a restatement of its 2012 official audit of the county’s finances after millions of dollars in underreported future pension expenses were discovered, County Comptroller George Maragos said.

On May 30, Maragos issued an amended version of the county’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for 2012 to correct two significant errors related to the reporting of pension expenses and long-term obligations to the county’s retirement plans. The mistakes do not affect the county’s current budget, Maragos said.

The revised report shows the county understated its pension expenses by $87.3 million over a seven-year period from 2006 through 2012. Maragos said the comptroller’s staff erred in 2005 when developing an “accounting methodology” to prepay pension expenses.

In the second error, Nassau made a “miscalculation” in 2010 when deferring some accrued pension expenses. The county understated $89.9 million in long-term obligations to the New York State Retirement System for 2011 and 2012, the report shows.

The errors were discovered by the comptroller’s staff during the 2013 year-end budget closing process, Maragos said.

This is the first time in recent memory that the county’s official financial statement, which is required by state law and is conducted by outside auditors in conjunction with the comptroller’s staff, has had to be restated.

Maragos said that while the errors were “unfortunate and should not have occurred,” they have “no impact” on the county’s current budget.

But the mistakes needed to be fixed because audited financial statements “could be relied on by rating agencies and purchasers of county obligations in its upcoming offerings,” Maragos said.

Nassau plans to go to the market next week for $200 million in revenue anticipation notes for short-term cash flow borrowing, said Deputy County Executive Tim Sullivan.  -- Robert Brodsky

NASSAU COUNTY

County, nonprofit to open healing center

Nassau County is joining forces with a nonprofit to open a “healing center” in Eisenhower Park to help Long Island families dealing with child loss.

Under an agreement with the county, the COPE Foundation, which stands for Connecting our Paths Eternally, will occupy the Lannin Carriage House at Field 6A in the park.

The foundation will host parent and sibling bereavement support groups and alternative healing workshops from the 1,000 square-foot Tudor cottage.

It was to have an open house 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday at the carriage house for its program that provides grief support for children and teenagers who have lost a parent, sibling or other close person.

“The support that COPE provides to families who are experiencing the difficulty of losing a child is very important,” County Executive Edward Mangano said in a statement. “The Lannin House in Eisenhower Park provides COPE the opportunity to expand their outreach and help more families in need.”

COPE previously shared county office space with the National Association of Mother’s Centers and the Women’s Fund of Long Island at the Elias Hicks Home in Jericho and has provided support group meetings at donated spaces across Nassau and Suffolk.

County officials said the move to Eisenhower Park provides the foundation with  added space for alternative healing workshops, such as art and music therapy, yoga, tai chi, reiki, meditation and drumming.

COPE founder and president Lilly Julien said the foundation was inspired by her daughter Michelle’s death in 1992. “I had a dream in which Michelle appeared before me and said, ‘I’m OK, Mommy. You’re the ones who aren’t OK,’ ” Julien wrote in a statement. “I awoke with a vision of a healing center -- a warm, safe, tranquil and nurturing place where parents and siblings could come together for emotional and spiritual support. Now, 22 years later, we finally have our home.”

Anyone interested in learning more about COPE can visit the group’s website copefoundation.org, or reach executive director Karen Flyer, at 516-484-4993 or karen@copefoundation.org. -- Laura Figueroa

BROOKHAVEN

Police say they are on summer BWI alert

Suffolk County Police and Brookhaven Town have joined forces to crack down on intoxicated boaters as summer approaches.

“We’re here to caution people about what we need for safe boating . . . We want people making sure their boats aren’t overloaded,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said.

His comments came at a news conference Wednesday morning in Patchogue, where Suffolk County’s Police Marine Bureau promoted boat safety and increased enforcement against intoxicated boaters.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Coast Guard are also part of the initiative.

Romaine said there were 14 alcohol-related boating accidents statewide last year, resulting in one death, and he recommended boaters take a safety course and keep flotation devices aboard.

Long Island resident Gina Lieneck was involved in a fatal boating accident almost nine years ago in Great South Bay when another boat struck the back of the vessel in which she was riding.

The collision killed her 11-year-old daughter, Brianna, and left Lieneck’s husband disabled, breaking every bone in his face and forcing the removal of part of his brain.

“It was an avoidable accident. If you just don’t drink and drive and follow the laws and don’t speed,” Gina Lieneck said. “Everybody likes to go out and have a good time for the day, but they aren’t taking caution.”

Daniella Rella, program director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Huntington, said she wanted to raise awareness. “Boats are large, heavy and destructive weapons,” she said.

“The rules apply on the water just as they are on the road. You still have to obey drinking laws,” said Frankie Sierra, an officer with the Suffolk Police Marine Bureau. -- Deon J. Hampton

LONG BEACH

Blues and arts festival starts

Artists in Partnership Inc. and the Long Beach Public Library are bringing the Sixth Annual Barrier Beach Blues and Arts Festival to Long Beach starting Thursday.

The free festival is from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Long Beach Hotel, on 405 E. Broadway, where local musician, teacher and producer Benoir will host an open blues mic, along with other musical performances.

The festival will continue at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the library’s auditorium, at 111 W. Park Ave., with a Blues Hall of Fame event with Breakaway and other special guests.

From noon to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, there will be live blues music along with Arts in the Plaza and the Farmer’s Market at Kennedy Plaza, in front of City Hall between West Chester Street and West Park Avenue. If it rains, the performances will be in the library. Limited seating is available in the plaza, so attendees should bring beach chairs.

Then Saturday night, the event will continue at the library at 7:30 p.m. with a set by the Bennett Harris Duo, followed by this year’s headliner, Alexis P. Suter and her band, at 8:15 p.m.

On Sunday, the traditional Blues Brews and Bar-B-Q event featuring the Michael Barnett Blues Band and Jam, will be  at 5 p.m. at Lola’s Kitchen and Wine Bar, 180 W. Park Ave.

For more information, call 516-432-6342 or visit www.aip-arts.org. -- Aisha al-Muslim

NORTH HEMPSTEAD

Advisory panel to help wounded vets

The Town of North Hempstead plans to create a Veterans Advisory Committee to address the needs of local veterans who were injured during military service and the families of those killed in combat.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth made the announcement Wednesday on the Mary Davies Green, across from town hall in Manhasset, at a news conference held to unveil North Hempstead’s designation as a Purple Heart Town by the Hicksville chapter of the national Military Order of the Purple Heart organization.

Robert Chiappone, chapter commander, said this means North Hempstead will be dedicated to making sure veterans are remembered. Chiappone said North Hempstead joins a growing list of Long Island Purple Heart communities that includes Hempstead, Babylon and the Village of Lindenhurst.

During the event, which included a small group of soldiers from Long Island who had received the Purple Heart and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), the Military Order presented the town with a wooden sign that reads, “North Hempstead, a Purple Heart Town.”

Bosworth said the advisory committee should help determine how the town can increase services and other assistance offered to its veterans and their families. “This will serve as another voice for our veterans,” she said.

Chiappone, 68, a Vietnam War veteran who lives in East Meadow, said he received the Purple Heart after being wounded in the forearm and chest by shrapnel. “By the time we’re done, we’re going to get all the towns on Long Island to be Purple Heart communities,” Chiappone said. -- Lisa Irizarry

MINEOLA

Nassau bar group gets new president

John P. McEntee of Rockville Centre, a commercial litigation partner at Farrell Fritz, was installed Wednesday as the 112th president of the Nassau County Bar Association.

McEntee replaces Peter Mancuso, whose one-year term ended last week.

McEntee, an active 24-year member of NCBA, has served on the board of directors for the past eight years, the last five as an officer. In 2011, as second vice president and chair of the Pro Bono Committee, he was instrumental in launching the first Pro Bono FAIR (Free Assistance, Information and Referral), providing free legal consulting to Nassau residents. It’s now held annually in October.

An accomplished trial lawyer, McEntee represents prominent businesses such as the New York Islanders and CA Technologies in a broad range of business disputes.

Before joining Farrell Fritz, McEntee served as an Assistant District Attorney in Nassau County and as an Assistant Deputy Attorney General with the New York State Organized Crime Task Force.

In 2003, the New York Law Journal recognized McEntee for having obtained the highest jury verdict in New York State in 2002, $100.4 million, representing the family of Edward Byrne, a rookie New York City police officer who, while guarding the home of a witness in Queens, was murdered in his patrol car on the orders of an imprisoned drug gang leader. -- Sid Cassese

Tags: Long Island , towns

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