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Oyster Bay approves new spending, despite ban

The town of Oyster Bay has increased a street repair contract by $1.4 million for unspecified work, but officials say the funds will likely be needed down the road.

The town board approved a $2.5 million increase to an existing contract for "road restoration at various locations" with Hicksville-based Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving Inc. at its Sept. 2 board meeting. The vote came less than two weeks after town Supervisor John Venditto said he told department heads to freeze spending.

Venditto said the contract increase did not violate his freeze on new spending because $1.1 million was already in the pipeline and the rest would not be spent until after the budget passes, which must be done by Nov. 20.

"The remaining $1.4 million just sits there," Venditto said. "There's been nothing further brought forward, nor will I approve of anything further on it until I get through the budget cycle."

Of the funds approved for the roadwork, $1.1 million will be used for Sheridan Avenue and Powell Avenue in Bethpage, but how the remainder will be used is unknown, said Oyster Bay Deputy Town Supervisor Leonard Genova.

"We did increase it over and above what we specifically have earmarked right now," Genova said. Genova said the town sometimes does this so it will be able to address constituent complaints about road conditions.

Last month, in response to the town's second credit rating downgrade in two months, Venditto said he would stop new spending for several months. "I'm talking about an overall spending freeze and a hiring freeze -- not going out with new projects," he said then.

The town originally awarded Carlo Lizza a $3 million contract for the roadwork in June 2013. Genova said the contract had been increased several times but he did not know when or by how much.

According to past resolutions, the town has increased the contract at least twice -- by $2.8 million on Dec. 17 and $2.8 million on Jan. 7. It exercised a one-year extension to the contract on June 17 for $2.5 million. The scope of the work in the original contract is road milling and repaving.

A state comptroller's office spokesman wouldn't comment on the contract, but said that contracts "must be sufficiently specific so bidders know the type of work they are bidding on."

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