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North Hempstead finally hires a new comptroller

Averil Smith, seen here in an undated photo,

Averil Smith, seen here in an undated photo, is the incoming North Hempstead comptroller. Credit: North Hempstead Town

North Hempstead Town has hired a comptroller after going a year without one.

The town board approved the hiring of Averil Smith at its meeting last week. The job had been vacant since former Comptroller Kathleen Mitterway resigned in August 2014 for another job outside the town.

The town board, after Mitterway resigned, hired former Nassau Comptroller Howard Weitzman as a financial consultant. Officials said his experience was key to preparing the budget in the wake of her resignation. Weitzman served two terms as county comptroller between 2002 and 2010.

Smith, who lives in Elmont, has worked as a controller at ABC Home Furnishings and M.Z. Berger and Co., a watch company. She has held auditing roles at other companies, including Ernst & Young. Smith will be paid $135,000 annually.

The town's last comptroller pick fell through. The board in October 2014 offered the job to Inna Reznik, but she declined the offer a month later, officials said.

"We went into our first budget season without a comptroller, so it required a lot of people to chip in," Supervisor Judi Bosworth said in an interview Monday. "We came out with a very responsible budget."

Bosworth said the biggest challenge is staying under the state-imposed property tax cap of 0.73 percent. Officials are "just in the planning stages" of preparing a budget, Bosworth said.

The town board also approved extending Weitzman's contract through the end of 2016. The extension does not add to his $100,400 contract created last year. Town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said, "our finance staff will continue to benefit from Howard Weitzman's expertise for a few hours a week. In the short term, he will also assist the new comptroller as she gets up to speed on the town's budget process."

Bosworth praised Smith's experience and said her appointment before the fall budget season is "critical." A budget hearing is scheduled for Oct. 13 and the vote on the budget is planned for Oct. 29.

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