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Maragos audit faults Nassau Parks Dept.’s oversight of vendor

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos speaks to the

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos speaks to the Nassau County Legislature prior to passing the county budget on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016 in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau’s Parks Department failed to properly supervise licensing agreements with a vendor that holds the exclusive right to provide food and beverage service at county facilities, costing taxpayers more than $430,000 in revenue, according to an audit by County Comptroller George Maragos.

The report contends that Dover Gourmet Corp. of Plainview failed to complete nearly $300,000 in contractually mandated improvements at county parks and at Nickerson Beach Park in Lido Beach.

The audit, which examined claims from January 2013 to May 2015, said Dover also owes Nassau more than $20,000 in late fees and underreported $27,000 in cash sales receipts.

“The Parks Department’s informal relationship with Dover resulted in significant lost revenue opportunities,” said Maragos, a Democrat running for county executive in 2017. “The Parks Department should now make every effort to recover the uncollected revenues.”

Parks and Dover officials dispute most of Maragos’ findings and said the vendor owes Nassau only $339.50 for underreported ice cream sales.

Dover has a 10-year licensing agreement, signed by former County Executive Thomas Suozzi in 2009, to provide vending and concession services at county parks and at Nickerson. The agreements expire at the end of 2019. The company has a separate agreement — not part of the audit — to provide vending and concession services at county office buildings

The audit identified $295,000 in projects that were not completed. For example, Dover was required to construct a picnic pavilion at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow and install cooking and service equipment at Nickerson by 2014.

“None of the capital improvements . . . have been initiated or completed,” the audit found.

Nassau Parks Commissioner Brian Nugent said while some of proposed projects were scrapped, others were completed and Dover is in compliance with the agreement.

“Capital improvements to our parks have been made and will continue throughout Dover’s contractual period,” said Nugent, who in 2014 gave Dover a five-year extension to complete all remaining work.

Dover President Butch Yamali said Maragos “ignored or disregarded all of the work that is in progress, or has been completed . . . The audit and findings by his office is based on politics and not fact.”

Maragos claims Nassau circumvented the county procurement and payment processes by allowing Dover to offset $84,000 in license fee revenue against amounts the vendor said it was owed for catered events in county parks. Nugent said the offset was approved by the County Attorney’s Office.

Maragos also charged that Dover owes the county nearly $23,000 in late fees after it missed 39 of 40 monthly license fee payment deadlines.

Nugent said that since Nassau is often late in making payments to Dover for catered events in county parks, both sides decided to forego late fees.

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