County Comptroller George Maragos, a Republican elected to oversee finances in a county struggling with budget deficits, has distributed a guide to free concerts throughout Nassau — at county expense.
Maragos said the pamphlet, which features his photograph and county seal as well as three pages of concert listings, provides a service to residents while reminding them to contact him if they see fraud and abuse.
But critics say the 50,000 brochures — produced in the county print shop on county materials by county employees — is inappropriate spending for a fiscal watchdog.
“He’s supposed to be making sure that taxpayer money is being spent responsibly but he appears to be wasting it on shameless self-promotion,” said Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin). “It’s ridiculous considering that he has nothing to do with these concerts whatsoever.”
Maragos tweeted about the guides this week. He included photographs of people perusing the four-page pamphlets, which offer the time, date and location of concerts in all three Nassau towns, two cities and the county itself.
“I would like to hear from our residents with Suggestions, Concerns and Feedback, Reports of Waste & Fraud,” is printed on the front page of Maragos’ pamphlet.
“Enjoy the Free Summer Concerts,” it adds, followed by Maragos’ name and signature.
“It didn’t cost anything,” Maragos said, although he later acknowledged a nominal cost.
Maragos said the guides were produced internally with county materials. No postage was paid, he added, because he had his appointed employees “give them out in their neighborhood stores and libraries” on their way home from work.
“Is paper free? Is ink free? Do employees work for free?” asked Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury). “I don’t get this. And he is the person who has the financial oversight for the county.”
Mangano administration officials estimated the cost of producing the concert guide at $6,000.
Maragos said he has put out similar guides in past years and other pamphlets as well. They include brochures to inform senior citizens about property tax exemptions, to list important emergency numbers or to explain what the comptroller’s office does.
“This is another good way at almost no cost to provide a good public service and at the same time remind residents of the comptroller’s office and encourage them to call the comptroller’s office to report any fraud and abuse,” Maragos said.