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Glen Cove hasn't withheld nearly $5G of insurance premiums from mayor's paychecks

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke said he wasn't

Glen Cove Mayor Timothy Tenke said he wasn't aware of the mistake and will reimburse the city for the missed payments. Photo Credit: Raychel Brightman

The city of Glen Cove has not taken health insurance deductions from Mayor Timothy Tenke's paychecks since he took office in January 2018, according to a report by the city controller's office.

The 10 percent contribution that employees on the city’s health insurance plan are required to make has not been deducted from Mayor Timothy Tenke’s bimonthly paychecks, according to the report, which Newsday obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request.

Through 2018, $115 should have been deducted from each of Tenke’s paychecks and $119 taken from each of his paychecks this year, the report found. Tenke now owes $4,795 in missed contribution payments.

Tenke said he wasn’t aware of the mistake but will reimburse the city for the missed payments. He added that the controller’s office receives bimonthly reports from the Human Resources Department directing the office to make the deductions but failed to do so. He said in a statement that the report was a ploy to “undermine" him. 

Tenke said Thursday that he has asked the state comptroller's office to conduct an audit of Glen Cove's controller's office and the city's finances.

"If this audit reveals that our controller is not fulfilling her fiduciary duties, I will expect her resignation immediately," Tenke said in a statement. 

Controller Sandra Clarson said she would welcome an audit but questioned whether she's being retaliated against for "doing my job." She added that her office hasn't received the human resources reports and that the "bottom line" is that Tenke owes the city money.

Tenke, a Democrat, has tried since the beginning of the year to replace Clarson, who was appointed in December 2016 by former Republican Mayor Reginald Spinello. Tenke has brought in several candidates to interview for the position, though each one has been “summarily dismissed” by the Republican-controlled city council, Tenke said in the statement.

“This is what happens when a duly elected mayor is forced to use a holdover political appointee to provide financial checks and balances for the city,” Tenke said in the statement. “This is pure obstructionist politics.” 

Republican Councilwoman Pamela Panzenbeck said that Tenke's candidates haven't had sufficient municipal experience and that Clarson has done a "stellar" job for the city. 

Glen Cove officials have recently caught and corrected other mistakes related to the city's health insurance plan. An audit conducted earlier this year found that six retirees were receiving benefits they didn’t qualify for, costing the city nearly $500,000 in premiums. The council voted to terminate coverage for the six men in May.

Last month, the city reinstated the benefits, pending a court decision for one retiree who sued the city.

Some council members have since called for an audit of active city employees.

“I think it would be constructive, particularly given the poor record-keeping in the city,” said Councilman Joseph Capobianco. “We can catch things like this.”

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