Hempstead supervisor candidate seeks to investigate city use of stimulus funds

The Hempstead Town supervisor’s Democratic challenger on Tuesday called for further investigations into how the city used $ 133 million in federal COVID-19 funds last year.

Jason Abelove, a Garden City attorney challenging Republican Supervisor Don Clavin, asked the New York State Comptroller, Attorney General and Nassau County District Attorney to review the use of city funds, including $ 70 million in salary expenses and about $ 25 million in town. building improvements.

Abelove said the city had abused funds meant to help people affected by the pandemic and not previously budgeted city services.

“Do you know how much the City has given to our storefronts to help them survive? No. Do you know how much the City has given to help the elderly and the young? None, ”said Abelove. “The public deserves answers.

The US Treasury Department announced in December that it would investigate the city’s use of federal CARES funding.

The Treasury audit was requested by Representative Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) and other local officials who criticized the city’s use of payroll funds and called for more funds for the Nassau County.

Treasury officials said their review of the city’s funding was underway.

“Last fall, the Treasury Department and the OIG office agreed that the city was spending CARES funds in the appropriate manner for the benefit of residents,” city spokesman Greg Blower said. “As with all municipalities that have received federal funds, the Treasury Department will continue to review spending.”

The city has also donated nearly $ 30 million to local food banks, hospitals, universities, schools and local villages, including funding for COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment.

Abelove said outside Hempstead town hall on Tuesday that the town had failed to help business owners during the pandemic.

The city voted last year to allocate $ 2 million to the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency for PPE for small businesses.

Hempstead was the only city in the country to receive funding under the $ 2 trillion recovery plan on coronavirus aid, relief and economic security, when it received $ 133 million on the its population base of 800,000, which is more than half of Nassau County’s 1.3. millions of inhabitants.

Nassau County received $ 103 million that officials said they used for police, firefighters and emergency services during the pandemic.

City officials said the allocation of all funds had been verified by the city’s comptroller and local officials and listed in separate resolutions unanimously passed by the city council, including its only Democrat, Dorothy Goosby. .

At the last city council meeting in December, council members voted to approve $ 70.1 million in salary expenses, including $ 43 million for the sanitation service. Other contracts were awarded to architects and contractors for the renovation of municipal buildings, including touchless bathrooms.

The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the call for an investigation. The state comptroller’s office said it was overseeing the federal investigation.

“The city used an ad hoc working group made up of various departments to informally discuss different issues. The city council itself made the decisions related to the use of federal funds, ”said Blower.

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