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State finds bidding flaws in Head of the Harbor

A state comptroller's audit of bucolic Head of the Harbor village in Smithtown called for better controls over bidding and payroll, and recommended it create a new policy to stop conflicts of interest, citing the village's use of a company co-owned by a village trustee and the trustee's spouse.

Although the audit does not name the trustee or company, the comptroller recommended that the village end the relationship with that vendor.

The comptroller's office confirmed that the trustee is Margaret Shutka, and the company is Eddie's Power Equipment Inc. of St. James. Records show Margaret and Charles Shutka co-own the business, and reside at the same address.

Neither Shutka could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The audit noted that the village paid the vendor $5,213 during the audit period of March 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2009. It also said that the trustee had not disclosed her interest in the company. The report recommended new policies to avert conflicts of interest.

The village answered in the document that the relationship with the vendor extended back decades, before the trustee joined the board, and the work was specialized. The village disagreed with the report, saying it "feels that it is important to support its community and local small businesses," but agreed to stop using the vendor.

Mayor Natale Tartamella said in a statement that the report was "not reflective of any legal requirements." He called the recommendations "minor suggestions" that had been implemented by the village.

The report also stated that the village did not comply with provisions of competitive bidding regulations or follow its own practices in two cases: an $85,000 contract for drainage work, and a $77,000 paving project.

The village responded that it had extended a contract begun the year before for the drainage work, that the paving project was off the county's bid list, and the village had changed documents to reflect that.

The report recommended the village keep logs of gas credit card purchases to ensure gas is only for village use, since only one card was accounted for. The village said it had promptly fixed this.

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