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Oyster Bay Democrats call for state panel to review fiscal policies

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012.

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012. Photo Credit: Nicole Bartoline

Oyster Bay Democrats have called for the creation of a state panel to review and oversee the town's finances, arguing that town debt has risen to $850 million under Town Supervisor John Venditto.

The recent indictment of restaurateur Harendra Singh has raised concern about the town's fiscal management, said Kevin Clemency, a volunteer for the town Democratic Party.

Town board members voted unanimously to extend its contracts with Singh last year despite Singh's companies being eight months late and more than $180,000 behind on rent and utility payments to Oyster Bay, documents obtained by Newsday show.

Clemency says the contracting issue needs to be addressed and is emblematic of a greater problem.

John Mangelli, Democratic candidate for supervisor, said in a news release that an oversight board is needed "now to get the town back on track, or we'll keep digging ourselves deeper into debt until we have to shut down the town government, including critical services, and nobody wants that."

Clemency said the recent release of the town budget with little explanation as to how taxpayer money is going to be spent increased the urgency for the call.

In a statement, the Oyster Bay Republican Committee described the Democrat's initiative as "a last ditch political stunt" in advance of the Nov. 3 election.

It touted the town's infrastructure and parks system and its ability to survive the economic downturn under Republican leadership. "Even though mortgage tax went from a high of $24 million to an approximate low of about $8 million, the Town, together with our workforce and residents, navigated the financial minefields and proposed a budget for 2016 that proposes a no tax increase to our hardworking residents," the committee said.

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