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Looks Great Services wins Nassau contract costing about $250G annually

A Nassau legislative committee Monday approved a new contract with a Huntington firm that made more than $60 million from the county for superstorm Sandy cleanup work.

The Rules Committee -- with its four Republicans voting yes and its three Democrats voting no -- approved a "blanket purchase order" with Looks Great Services Inc. for tree-trimming and stump removal work that County Executive Edward Mangano's office estimates will cost about $250,000 annually.

Looks Great previously has done such work for the county under other contracts.

The last, approved in November 2012, was estimated to cost $215,000 a year, but paid the firm $629,523 from just September 2013 through May.

The company drew attention following Sandy in October 2012, when county lawmakers approved $68.8 million in emergency purchase orders for the firm to clean up damaged trees and haul debris.

The company and its president have made a total of $27,000 in campaign contributions to Mangano.

Nassau paid Looks Great $60.4 million for Sandy work.

State, local and federal agencies subsequently investigated allegations that the company did not pay prevailing wages.

Nassau officials and the firm had said Looks Great was not required to pay prevailing wage for the emergency work.

Earlier this year, Looks Great pleaded guilty in Suffolk County Court to underpaying workers for Sandy cleanup in violation of prevailing wage laws. It agreed to pay $186,000 to other workers it had underpaid.

Monday, Nassau Legis. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) raised the cases with Richard Millet, a county public works official.

"Is it in the best interest to give them more money?" Abrahams asked the administration.

Millet said the new purchase order -- as was the case with the previous non-Sandy-related ones -- requires that prevailing wage be paid because the work is of a nonemergency nature.

"This contract has been prevailing wage the entire time," Millet said. "It has never not been prevailing wage."

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