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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

The comptroller next door

Town of Oyster Bay Councilmember Rebecca Alesia, left,

Town of Oyster Bay Councilmember Rebecca Alesia, left, attends a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017 in Oyster Bay. Credit: Howard Schnapp

For the second time in five weeks, a Republican Oyster Bay Town board member has taken to social media to question the Republican-run municipality’s actions.

In July, councilwoman Rebecca Alesia, on her Facebook page, said she had tried — and failed — to rescind her earlier vote to approve the hiring of Brian Nevin, County Executive Edward Mangano’s former spokesman, as town public information officer.

Alesia wanted to make the change because she’d initially been told that the hire would fill “an already established and funded position within the public information department.” Later, she found out that funding for the post would come from planned sanitation department consolidations.

This week, Alesia turned to Facebook again, this time over the town board’s vote Tuesday to hire a comptroller — while Alesia was on vacation.

Why take to Facebook a second time around? For one, the candidate’s name was not made public until the special meeting, she said. For another, the candidate — whose resume, Alesia said, was the only one passed along to her in June — is deputy town supervisor Greg Carman’s next-door neighbor.

“I don’t want anybody to think that I had a part in this,” Alesia said Wednesday in an interview. “I had questions that I wanted to ask, questions that I think my neighbors would have wanted to ask and I don’t want anyone thinking that I slid the deputy supervisor’s next-door neighbor in . . . ”

Alesia last week sent a memo to Carman, and cc’d to Supervisor Joseph Saladino and fellow board members asking that the vote on Steven Ballas, chief financial officer of Farmingdale-based Scott Cable Communications Inc., be delayed.

She said she had no qualms about Ballas’ qualifications, only about the process. Alesia said that as of Wednesday she had received no response; Saladino, in an interview, said he believed that a staff member had responded.

Saladino defended the hiring, and the timing, saying he needed a comptroller to provide forecasts and other input for Saladino’s first budget since he was appointed to succeed former town Supervisor Joseph Venditto — who resigned after pleading not guilty to federal corruption-related charges.

“We had to get him in . . . the clock was ticking,” Saladino said, noting that he planned to submit a no-tax increase budget for the financially troubled town.

Under town code, the comptroller’s term ends with that of the supervisor — which means that Ballas could be without a job come January depending on the results of the election. “This was a way to deliver a very responsible budget with a comptroller who could be given no assurances that this person would have a job come Jan. 1,” said Saladino, who is running for election in November.

As for Alesia’s dissension and that of board member Anthony Macagnone, the lone vote against Nevin and Ballas, Saladino said, “This isn’t a negative, like there’s a fight going on. It’s a good thing because we have different opinions and discuss.”

Meanwhile, in the GOP stronghold of Hempstead, infighting continues between some town board members and the town supervisor. “To me, what’s happening in Oyster Bay is similar to the issues that are going on in Hempstead,” Alesia said. “We are supposed to be a council and while I understand that there is a supervisor...[the supervisor is] an executive and a legislative role — and the board is supposed to carry some weight.”

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