The Chad Lupinacci era in Huntington got off to a quick start at the first town board meeting under his direction — in about an hour the new supervisor appointed a town attorney, approved a measure to ask for a state audit, and increased the number of town board meetings.
Huntington Station resident and attorney Nick Ciappetta, 38, was named the new town attorney. Ciappetta is a Walt Whitman High School graduate, holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vassar and law degree from Hofstra, and currently has been an attorney in the Office of the New York City Corporation Counsel since 2004.
Ciappetta has been a member of the South Huntington school board since 2004, where he served with Lupinacci. Ciappetta was vice president of the school board from 2012 to 2017 and elected president in June 2017. His town position starts Feb. 14 and he will be paid $161,416.
Lupinacci touted his campaign manager’s from high school’s experience at the Corporation Counsel where he has worked on cases that have impacted the city.
“He’s very familiar with municipal budgeting ... and will have a good interaction of the complex legal system but also the sense of the community,” Lupinacci said.
Huntington resident Daniel Martin, 70, a court of claims judge who most recently was an acting Supreme Court Judge, and the former Huntington Town Republican Leader, was named deputy town attorney. He will be paid $146,652.
Town board member Gene Cook sponsored a resolution asking for the state comptroller to conduct an audit of town finances, policies and procedures. In 2012 he offered a similar resolution but it failed to get support. An amended resolution offered by then-Supervisor Frank Petrone was approved.
That audit, released about a year later, found town officials routinely paid supervisors overtime that might not be necessary, allowed employees to accumulate excessive unused sick, vacation and personal days, and contracted with 23 attorneys for a total of $1.9 million without using the request-for-proposal process, according to the state comptroller’s report.
Board member Mark Cuthbertson voted against Wednesday’s measure, saying it was a “shot at” the previous administration.
“I just think this is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money,” Cuthbertson said.
The town is audited annually by an independent auditor. The reports, and others generated by the town, are sent to the state comptroller’s office, town officials said.
“This is not accusing the last administration of anything,” Cook said. “I think it’s important for the new supervisor to know exactly what’s going on and have the state comptroller come in and look the books over.”
The resolution passed 4 to 1.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting the board voted to have two town board meetings a month, except in July and August. The town board will now have meetings twice a month with one in the afternoon and a second in the evening.
“It’s important to meet more often so people can feel morce comfortable oming down to express their opinions,” Lupinacci said.