In a recently recorded news interview with News12, Hempstead Town Supervisor, Kate Murray (who has held that position since 2003), denies claims by her opponent, Felix Procacci, a Republican running on the Democratic line, that she has raised taxes 44.9% since 2003.
Mr. Procacci cites the Town's own financial audit to justify his claims. He obtained this audit from the Town after making a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. Mr. Procacci also shows evidence that the Town routinely engages in this type of behavior. At Tuesday's Town budget hearing (on Oct 15th), Mr. Procacci claimed the Town is overstating the number of Graphics Artists they have on staff. Mr. Procacci says : “since 2012 the number of graphics artists specified in the Town's budget has grown from 1 to 3, and the corresponding cost has increased from $67.5k to $292.1k. Mr. Procacci FOILed the names of these graphics artists back on Sept 6th, but so far the Town has released only one name. At the budget hearing, Supervisor Murray denied creating phantom employees, but the FOIL request still remains unanswered. Mr. Procacci also says that the Town is in violation of the Public Officer's Law for not properly responding to a FOIL request within 20 days. The law allows additional time (over 20 days) providing the agency (the Town) provide a reason in writing for the delay. To date, Mr. Procacci claims the Town has not provided any reason.
Last year, Mr. Procacci filed an Article 78 Law suit against the Town for violating FOIL. Mr. Procacci, substantially prevailed after the Town released the requested records, after the Law suit was filed. The documents obtained verified claims made in the State Comptroller's audit report (released in Nov. 2012) that the administrative costs charged to departments did not reflect the actual services received. These administrative costs amounted to about $3.5 million dollars in 2012 for the Town's animal shelter. The audit report also stated “Further, the Town used inadequate allocation factors to calculate the total town-wide general fund administrative costs of $53 million in 2010 and $52.5 million in 2011”.
Mr. Procacci also cites another example of these questionable
allocations. He says “In the department of the Town Supervisor
$1.3 million of a $2 million is allocated to the Parks department,
but no one in the Town can say what the Supervisor's staff does for
the Parks Department that is worth $1.3 million dollars.
Mr. Procacci has attended every Town board meeting since Aug 2010. He says he is dedicated to reforming government by getting legislation that would require local governments to provide accurate and timely information to its residents.
He says that the first thing he would do if elected Supervisor is make Town government transparent. Mr. Procacci says he would begin by broadcasting all Town board meetings online, put all Town contracts online (the day after they are ratified) with their total costs, as well as any mid-year changes to the Town's budget.
Mr. Procacci says
“Transparency is key to reforming local government”.
Attached is the actual data from the Town's 2012 Financial Audit that shows tax increases for Town controlled funds, as well as tax increases which include commissioner operated funds.
Video of Kate Murray denying that she raised taxes 44.9% : https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Cf_4W54oOZg