Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino is reviewing the town board liaison system that was established last year to get council members more involved in government operations.
Asked in an interview Tuesday whether the year-old informal system under which each council member is assigned two departments to engage with on the board’s behalf will continue, Saladino said, “We’re going to take a look at everything.”
“I have been promising a whole new Town of Oyster Bay,” Saladino said. “I’m very respectful of where people want to be, and we’re going to ensure that our town board represents and works for all residents on all issues.”
Saladino was appointed supervisor in late January following the resignation of his predecessor, John Venditto, earlier that month in the wake of his indictment on federal corruption charges.
The liaison system has been popular with board members who previously relied heavily on the supervisor’s office for information about departments, programs and initiatives. Councilman Anthony Macagnone, who spearheaded the effort last year to implement the system, said it should continue because it gives constituents an avenue to address department-specific issues.
“Right now residents have a councilperson to appeal to,” Macagnone said. “It’s a benefit to the residents — more openness and more transparency.”
Macagnone is liaison to the Department of Public Works and the Highway Department.
“It definitely should not be scrapped altogether,” Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said. Alesia said the system could be modified so that board members’ assignments to departments change, but she wasn’t sure if that scenario was better than the current system.
“Is it better for each of us to rotate through different departments and therefore we’re all being exposed to all of the different things that are going on in the town?” Alesia said.
Moody’s Investors Service noted the involvement of the town board when it reinstated Oyster Bay’s bond rating in January. The Moody’s rating report, which came out after Venditto resigned but before Saladino was appointed, said that the acting supervisor and town board “have stepped in to help provide more accurate budgeting and encourage both cost savings and the addition of recurring revenue.”
Former Councilman Joseph Pinto, who resigned from the board last week to become town parks commissioner, said the liaison program led to the town board playing a more active role in governing the town and “maybe that was something we could have done earlier.”
“Once we all became liaisons that really catapulted the town board’s involvement in day-to-day activities,” Pinto said.
Councilman Louis Imbroto, who was appointed last week to replace Pinto, has not taken over Pinto’s roles as liaison to the departments of community and youth services and the comptroller.