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Petrone Disputes Naughton on Budget

Highway superintendent says town needs a state audit.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone sent a letter to Highway Superintendent William Naughton Monday, disputing his statements last week about his budget.

A spokesman for Naughton read a letter last week to the Town Board, complaining about the handling of his budget before the board voted to adopt the 2011 budgets. That Naughton himself didn't appear triggered an angry response from Councilman Mark Cuthbertson, who listed several opportunities for face-to-face discussions that he said Naughton hadn't taken.  So too, did Petrone in his letter Monday.

After saying that Naughton had made "significant misstatements and inaccuracies," Petrone's letter reads. "You failed to show up for either the meeting with me or one with Town budget officials as the budget was being formulated...If you had been more engaged in the process, you would have seen that  the 2011 capital budget doubles the amount of money available for road rehabilitation, from $1.5 million to $3 million, with the work being done by private contractors."

Petrone's letter disputes nearly every point of Naughton's statement read to the board, including how much money is left in surplus.

But Naughton said Monday afternoon that Petrone and others are confusing operations and capital budgets in their figures and that town would benefit from a state audit that would clarify where funds are distributed. "It's not personal," he said. "I'm just complaining out the way the finances of the town are being handled."

"I was thinking that the way out of this conflict of what Frank says and what I say is to have the state comptroller come in and audit the books. It hasn't been done in 13 years. Let him (the state comptroller) audit the books and say what is what. That's what I would recommend."

About Petrone's letter, Naughton said, in "his last paragraph (says) he's willing to sit down and discuss it. Obviously I'm available to discuss it. If he's willing to listen to me, I'm willing to listen to him. I'm just as concerned about the taxpayers as he is," promising to respond to Petrone's letter in the next couple of days.

Naughton also had referred to a hiring dispute earlier this year that led to the town filing a suit against him. "Despite the fact that the monies were in my budget," Naughton's first letter read, "the town board sought to prevent me from filling a number of vacant and much needed positions in the highway office and from spending the requisite funds to pave and rehabilitate more roads and improve drainage conditions in many areas of Huntington.  They had the audacity to sue me for filling several vacancies that were fully funded and tried to prevent me from promoting a number of employees in the highway office by refusing to pay them. An arbitrator's decision overruled the board's actions. "

But Petrone responded that Naughton had his facts wrong about the earlier clash and that several workers hired by Naughton will lose their jobs in January.

His letter concludes that "We must do more with less.  The most responsible way to maintain services while holding down costs in these difficult financial times is by working together to manage more efficiently. The old paradigms do not work."

Dan Fucci November 09, 2010 at 12:08 PM
Their is a difference between general operating costs and capital expenditures. Without knowing much about this particular situation, I do see a need for such a state audit as well in an effort to achieve much needed answers.
Vivienne Wong November 09, 2010 at 01:53 PM
I and many others agree that a state audit is needed. In these economically difficult times with town revenues declining the squandering of tax dollars is significant. For example, rather than use Highway Dept engineers to oversee work on Walt Whitman Road, Melville - $600,000 is going to an outside contractor. Cost overruns are in the millions at the ice skating rink and now we have Breezy Park with high cost overruns. General Services oversees both of these projects and the cost overruns are expected way north of $ 10 million dollars. (any error in my numbers above please correct me).


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