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Oyster Bay, Southampton towns face state audit of ethics oversight

The reviews include financial disclosure forms and ethics board advisory opinions, according to the ethics counsel.

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office has

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office has launched a statewide audit of 20 municipalities. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Oyster Bay and Southampton towns’ ethics practices are being reviewed by the New York State comptroller’s office as part of a statewide audit of 20 municipalities.

Oyster Bay disclosed the audit in a borrowing prospectus last month. A spokeswoman for the comptroller's office confirmed those details but declined to identify the other 18 municipalities being reviewed.

Tania Lopez, spokeswoman for State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, said the audit is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The audit covers ethics oversight practices from Jan. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018.

Steven Leventhal of Roslyn-based Leventhal, Cursio, Mullaney & Sliney LLP, who serves as ethics counsel to Oyster Bay and Southampton, said the comptroller’s office contacted the towns earlier this year.

“We have fully cooperated with the comptroller’s office,” Leventhal said. DiNapoli's office has interviewed members of both town’s ethics boards as well as Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Leventhal said.

He said the comptroller’s office has asked for statistical information, financial disclosure forms and advisory opinions issued by the ethics boards.

Lopez did not say why the 20 municipalities were chosen for the audit. A spokesman for Hempstead and a spokeswoman for Huntington said Wednesday they had not been contacted by the comptroller’s office about an ethics audit.

Oyster Bay overhauled its ethics code in 2016 and appointed a new ethics board in 2017. The five-member board could not meet early last year because resignations had left it without enough members for a quorum. The board now has three members. It is required to meet at least four times under the code but met three times last year.

The comptroller’s office published an audit of 31 municipalities’ ethics practices in 2010. That report examined whether those municipalities had adopted ethics codes in compliance with state law and had developed adequate procedures to monitor compliance with their ethics codes. That report included reviews of Nassau County and Smithtown. 

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