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Oyster Bay consulting contracts over budget by 10 percent

Oyster Bay Town Hall in 2014.

Oyster Bay Town Hall in 2014. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Two Oyster Bay consulting contracts went $287,088 over budget last year — a more than 10 percent increase over what had been approved by the town board.

Last week, board members approved paying for the overruns to contractor Cashin Spinelli & Ferretti LLC of Hauppauge.

One of the principals of the firm, Michael Spinelli, is president of Town Supervisor John Venditto’s North Massapequa Republican Club. He is also on the town’s planning advisory board and landmarks preservation commission. His wife, Vicky Spinelli, is Oyster Bay’s deputy commissioner of human resources. The firm did not respond to a request for comment.

Both contracts were approved in 2014. One of contracts was to provide services to the department of planning development that was run last year by Frederick Ippolito, who was forced out of his job as commissioner in January after pleading guilty to felony tax evasion.

That contract was originally for $1.2 million annually but went $127,000 over budget last year because of “extraordinary circumstances,” according to a board resolution.

The other contract was for work for the town’s department of environmental resources for $1.3 million in 2015 that went $160,088 over budget that year because of “additional responsibilities and expanded tasks,” according to a board resolution.

Oyster Bay town spokeswoman Marta Kane directed queries to Councilman Chris Coschignano. However, Coschignano said he would speak on behalf of himself and not the town.

In response, Venditto said in a statement late Wednesday that the overruns were “the result of various unforeseeable problems.”

Coschignano said the department heads made recommendations to pay the bills and then the board had to deal with them. He said in an interview that he learned about the overruns after they had already occurred.

“The buck stops with all of us,” Coschignano said. “I wouldn’t want to place blame in any one particular place. We should watch our budget as best we can. It’s the taxpayers’ money and we’re all responsible.”

The board has held up a proposed extension of the firm’s contract with the planning and development department.

“This is one of the things that we decided to take a closer look at to try to do things better and make sure we don’t run into cost overruns,” Coschignano said.

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