Mayor's complaint prompts delay in board budget vote

Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne Hall speaks about accusations Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne Hall speaks about accusations made by a village justice. (Oct. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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The Hempstead Village board delayed a vote on the budget for federal grant funding proposed by its Community Development Agency after the mayor, who is also chairman of the agency, complained he was not involved in preparing that budget.

The village board held a hearing last week on the agency's yearly allocation of Community Development Block Grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, money distributed by Nassau County. The agency was awarded $1.015 million for its 38th program year.

The proposed grant funding budget called for: $203,000 for administration and planning; $150,000 for housing activities; $120,000 for public facilities and improvement, such as the Main Street beautification project; $100,000 for the downtown revitalization; $52,000 for public service programs; and $50,000 for code enforcement.

The budget also includes $340,000 to cover continuing payments on a $10 million mortgage it backed in 2001 on behalf of the now-defunct 100 Black Men of Long Island Development Group; the group was unable to pay the loan. As a result, the agency has had to cut back on funding it provides to nonprofit groups.

Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. asked the village board Tuesday not to approve the grant-funding budget because he had not reviewed that budget nor had input on it because he wasn't at the last agency meeting. Agency Commissioner Claude Gooding said the county's deadline for budget approval was April 1 and later urged the board to set a date to take a vote. No date for the vote has been set.

"I usually have input on the budget, but this time, I didn't have it," said Hall, adding the village also recently has paid about $250,000 of the CDA's payroll with an understanding that the agency will reimburse the village.

Rockville Centre resident Katherine Garry, of the Committee to Save Hempstead, berated the mayor, saying it was his responsibility to obtain a copy of the budget. "It's your business to know about it," Garry said. "You knew about the public hearing in advance."

After the agency's budget hearing, the village board scheduled a public hearing for April 15 at 6 p.m. on the village's tentative $72.88 million budget for 2013-2014. The board will then hold a special meeting on April 29 at 6 p.m. to consider adoption of the tentative budget.

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