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Nassau County Comptroller’s Report: January 6, 2014

Transparency In Government The Public Can See

Confidence and trust in government appears to continue to erode because of political infighting, and the perception of waste, fraud, and limited transparency. This is why my office has taken small yet significant steps to attempt to restore some trust through transparency.

Our latest step came last week when we made available to the public on the Comptroller’s Facebook page all 2013 Nassau County contracts with vendors as well as all the bills paid by the County. In keeping with my office’s prudent standards of controlling costs and promoting innovation, we used the latest social media tools to make this information available to the greatest number of residents by using Facebook, Twitter and Google Docs. Not a single taxpayer dollar has been spent for this important public service.  

Historically, to view this type of information a Freedom of Information Law request was necessary. Placing these contracts online provides taxpayers with a snapshot of how their money is being spent, and hopefully, generate feedback from residents if inefficiencies and waste are observed.

Nassau County spent over $700 million on contracts with hundreds of vendors in 2013 and processes over 50,000 payments to these vendors. The Comptroller’s Office receives hundreds of bills weekly and, after careful review, pays for the work or product that was performed according to the contract specifications. These vendors provide a range of essential services and products for taxpayers, including road paving, traffic light maintenance, fraud investigations, social services and transportation for seniors, the needy and children with special challenges.

My office always strives to get the most out of every tax dollar and makes every attempt to give the taxpayers all the information possible. In the last four years, we reduced government costs by over $300 million by demanding value in contracts, insisting on competitive bidding and verifying that services were delivered as specified prior to payments. In short, Nassau County is operating as you would expect an efficient business to operate.

You can expect us to continue to provide taxpayers with a snapshot of exactly where their money is going. We will be updating the information on a weekly basis and as always, we welcome suggestions as to how we can improve the County’s level of transparency. The Comptroller’s Facebook page is facebook.com/nccomptroller. Your participation and feedback is crucial in assisting me to keep costs down and uncover waste and fraud.

News

Oyster Bay Town officials are mulling an override of the state’s 2 percent property tax cap for the second consecutive fiscal year. On Aug. 12, the town held a hearing to approve local legislation, giving the Town Council authority to pierce the cap.

However, according to Marta Kane, a spokesperson with the Town of Oyster Bay, Supervisor John Venditto and the members of the Oyster Bay Town Council are not certain if they will entertain a repeat of last year, when the board adopted a $277 million budget, increasing the tax levy by $15,964,647 — or 8.8 percent.

Members and guests of North Shore Synagogue’s Brotherhood BBQ and Erev Shabbat Service enjoyed a wonderful summer’s evening in early July with a classic BBQ and services led by Brotherhood, with help from Rabbi Jaimee Shalhevet and Cantor Rich Pilatsky.   

“This is a wonderful way to connect with other members of Brotherhood, which focuses on building camaraderie among our members, and instilling a strong sense of community away from the hectic pressures of our day-to-day lives,” said  Brotherhood co-president Jeffrey Levine.


Calendar

Blood Drive

Thursday, Aug. 28

Take A Book On Vacation

Through Aug. 30

Knitting Circle

Tuesday, Sept. 2



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com