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Shelter hire raises ire

The Hempstead Town Animal Shelter on Jan. 26,

The Hempstead Town Animal Shelter on Jan. 26, 2011. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Animal welfare advocates have criticized the Hempstead Town's hiring of a contractor turned $95,000-a-year full-time veterinarian at its animal shelter.

The Hempstead Town board voted 6-0 Tuesday to approve the provisional appointment of Jeffrey Siegel as veterinarian, effective Wednesday. A civil service testing process would be required to establish a list of candidates, town officials said. The state would have to set a test date.

Siegel, who was hired as a contractor in 2011 to provide on-site medical services at the shelter in Wantagh, was making about $120,000 a year from the town for part-time work. He also was paid overtime and $300 per day for the town's use of his mobile surgical unit.

But animal activist Lucille DeFina and others spoke out against his appointment at the meeting, charging that Siegel is unable to perform his duties.

"This is a major waste of money," said DeFina, pointing out after the meeting that Siegel will qualify for paid time off, sick days, health benefits and a pension. "He made close to $200,000 last year, and that does not include the rental fee for his van."

Town attorney Joseph Ra said in response that Siegel's increased duties with the town give him little time for surgeries. "It's not that he's not capable of performing surgeries. It's that he doesn't have the time."

The town board also approved 6-0 the hiring John A. Mastromarino, a certified public accountant based in Malverne, and paying him up to $50,000 for consulting services to the town comptroller's office.

Mastromarino, the former town comptroller and Nassau County deputy comptroller, is expected to review the feasibility report from the Water Authority of Southeastern Nassau County to possibly conduct a public takeover of the former Aqua New York Inc. area, Ra said.

Mastromarino, whose pension was $74,124 in 2013, would also analyze workforce distribution in relation to a recently enacted severance incentive, among other duties, town spokesman Michael Deery said Wednesday.

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