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North Hempstead’s new resident advocate has dual town roles

With the creation of its newest job position, the Town of North Hempstead continues its practice of doubling up job titles for individual workers.

The town’s new resident advocate, Lauren Summa, will also hold the title of secretary to the town supervisor, a position previously held by acting Highway Superintendent Joe Geraci, who is now also the deputy commissioner of the department of public works.

Summa, who was paid $73,000 as the secretary to the building commissioner, has been appointed to the $80,000 advocate position, effective earlier this month. She will assist in giving residents personalized service and helping them navigate concerns with the Building, Highway and Code Enforcement departments, according to the job description provided by the town.

Geraci has been acting superintendent of the highway department since former chief Thomas Tiernan resigned in November, in the wake of an internal overtime investigation. Geraci will now also hold the title of deputy commissioner of the department of public works, at the same salary of $140,000.

The shift also means the town now has two people occupying the same position in this department. Victor Thomas is the current deputy commissioner, making $105,000. He has been serving in this role since Tiernan’s wife, Jill Guiney, stepped down from the position last May, returning to her previous title as a civil engineer at an annual salary of $129,479.

Rebecca Cheng, a town spokeswoman, said the reason for the doubled-up position in public works was “operational. It was based on the workload in the department.”

The town is also searching for new leaders for its public safety department. Shawn Brown is both the deputy commissioner and acting commissioner, said town spokeswoman Carole Trottere. The town is searching for candidates for both positions. The 2017 budget allocates $107,665 for an acting commissioner and $55,341 for a deputy commissioner, but does not budget for a commissioner position.

The resident advocate is the latest in new positions reporting directly to the office of Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth. In June 2016, the town rehired its former building commissioner, Kevin Cronin, to serve in a $98,000 “special assignment” position to help manage the wave of retirements in the highway department. Though originally a part-time position, Cronin was hired in November on a full-time basis at a salary of $122,500.

Upon Cronin’s hiring last summer, Bosworth told Newsday that she was “doing a lot of reshuffling in my office.”

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