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Glen Cove mayor presents partial budget amid controller flap

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke presides over a

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke presides over a city council meeting on Feb. 20, 2018.  Credit: Raychel Brightman

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke has presented a partial 2020 budget that he assembled largely without the help of the city’s controller.

Tenke said he and Councilwoman Marsha Silverman — the only Democrats on the seven-member council — worked on the budget together after finding several errors in information sent by Controller Sandra Clarson. Tenke fired Clarson in August, but she’s been temporarily reinstated following a court order.

Tenke called for Clarson to resign in July at a news conference after she compiled a report showing the city had not deducted health insurance premiums from Tenke's paychecks since he took office in January 2018.

Clarson declined to comment.

Versions of the proposed $46.9 million general fund have been presented to the council in the past couple of weeks. The budget would raise taxes 1.88%, which is the state tax cap. Residents with homes worth about $500,000 would see an annual increase in their taxes of $78.11, Tenke said.

“Basically we took the base recommendations that I had received from the controller and went through the budget line by line and made cuts where I could,” Tenke said at the Oct. 10 council meeting. “Little haircuts in basically every department to come up with a budget that was balanced.”

Council members received copies of the general fund, water fund and ferry fund just before the Oct. 10 meeting began. The insurance and debt service funds were not presented. 

Tenke was criticized for recommending the city spend nearly all of the $875,000 remaining of its ferry subsidy in 2020 instead of spreading it across the two years the city is required to operate a commuter ferry into New York City. He said he’s planning to see if the state can provide any additional funding for the ferry, but that it’s important we get the service “up and running” in 2020.

The council was also given an amended copy of the general fund at a pre-council meeting Tuesday, which added $2.1 million in police retirement funds and included other adjustments.  

An additional meeting will be held Friday to discuss the debt service and insurance funds before the council is scheduled to vote on the budget next Tuesday.

Tenke said he has requested the two items from Clarson but hasn’t received them yet. He lost confidence in Clarson to work on the budget after finding errors, such as her not preparing the ferry fund, and took over the job with Silverman. But Tenke said he still expects her to provide him with the city's financial information that only she has access to. 

Councilman Kevin Maccarone said he’s concerned about the procedural issues that have cropped up since Tenke cut Clarson out of the budgeting process.

“We didn’t have any of these issues last year,” Maccarone said. 

Maccarone said he also believes Tenke’s in violation of the city charter because the budget he presented on Oct. 1 was incomplete. Tenke disputes this, saying he’s unable to present a full budget because Clarson hasn’t given him all the data he needs.

“I’m complying the best I can with the information I have,” Tenke said.  

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