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Oyster Bay hires new comptroller despite board member complaint

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, left, and

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, left, and Councilman Anthony Macagnone during a town board meeting at Town Hall on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

The Oyster Bay Town Board appointed a new comptroller Tuesday despite complaints from an absent board member that the decision was pushed through without enough discussion.

The board voted 5-1 to appoint Steven Ballas, chief financial officer of Farmingdale-based Scott Cable Communications Inc., as comptroller until at least the end of the year.

Councilman Anthony Macagnone voted against the appointment. He said after the meeting that Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia — who is on a long-planned family trip and was not at the meeting — “deserved to have her questions answered.”

Alesia on Friday sent a memo to Deputy Supervisor Greg Carman stating that she objected to having Ballas — who is Carman’s next-door neighbor in Farmingdale — appointed comptroller at Tuesday’s meeting, which was not on the board meeting calendar. Alesia copied the memo to Supervisor Joseph Saladino and other board members. Tuesday’s meeting was called solely to vote on a recycling contract, and Alesia asked for that to be the sole agenda item.

Alesia wrote in the memo that Ballas is “well qualified” but she had questions about the search process. Alesia posted the memo on her Facebook page on Monday.

Alesia said by phone Tuesday that she tried to work behind the scenes last week to move the comptroller vote to the regularly scheduled Sept. 12 meeting and only went public with her concerns after no town official responded to her request.

“I’ve consistently tried to work within the confines of this administration up to now . . . ,” Alesia said.

“I’ve been trying to be respectful of someone who’s said he’s trying to make changes and do the right thing,” she said of Saladino. “But this isn’t right.”

Saladino defended the comptroller vote.

“We’re going into budget season. To have this person in place quickly is very important,” Saladino said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Marc Herman, Saladino’s Democratic opponent in the November election for supervisor, criticized the appointment. At a news conference before the board meeting, Herman said Saladino was “operating the town like his own personal fiefdom.”

The board Tuesday also approved a contract for West Babylon-based Winters Bros. Waste Systems to run the town’s new single-stream recycling program, which starts Oct. 23.

Residents currently must separate paper from metals, glass and plastic for recycling pickup. Under single-stream, all recyclables will be picked up together, and curbside cardboard pickup will be added.

Winters’ contract runs through 2018, with an option to extend it by a year after each of the following four years.

The vote had been scheduled for Aug. 15, but Macagnone requested a postponement so he could better scrutinize the Winters Bros. bid, which is far more lucrative for the town than the losing bids. Winters Bros. agreed to pay the town $25.08 per ton for recyclables, while West End Waste Reduction Inc., offered to pay $8.56 a ton and a Connecticut firm wanted Oyster Bay to pay it to haul away the materials.

Anthony Core, owner of West End and of Omni Recycling of Babylon, one of two companies with contracts for the town’s current recycling program, urged board members to delay the vote again to better study the bids. He criticized Winters Bros. for planning to send the material to a sorting facility in Connecticut. West End would do so on Long Island using local workers, Core said.

Saladino said the town already has thoroughly scrutinized the three companies and that Winters Bros.’ bid will bring in more than $2 million in revenue over five years.

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