Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen has taken aim at a new financial issue in the town, calling out the town’s Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin over mailings.
Over the last year, the town as a whole has saved over $900,000 from mailings and postage, a taxpayer-funded budget, Gillen said Thursday at a press conference. The prior town administration, led by former Supervisor Anthony Santino, had previously budgeted for $2.9 million in 2018 for mailings.
Gillen pointed out that she has spent under $120,000 on mailings this year, where Santino had spent $690,000. She commended most of other elected officials including the town board’s council members and Clerk Sylvia Cabana for cutting costs, but took particular issue with Clavin’s office.
“The only elected official in the Town of Hempstead who has spent more than what was spent last year and who has spent more than every other elected official in the town is our receiver of taxes,” Gillen said. “He has spent more this year than every other elected official combined.”
Clavin’s office has spent $334,000 on mailings this year and had spent $333,000 last year, according to Gillen’s office.
After Gillen voted to deny a $55,000 mailing by Clavin’s office to a quarter of a million homes in the town Tuesday night, the town board voted to on an “emergency resolution to strip the Supervisor’s office of its authority to monitor and control mail expenditures,” Gillen said.
Gillen nonchalantly presented and shredded a mailing from Clavin’s office, his photo on the top left corner of the paper.
“Besides the fact that everyone else in this town has cut back and done more with less, the same rules don’t seem to apply for the person who collects your taxes,” Gillen said.
“It seems he would rather spend your tax money and collect it,” Gillen said.
Gillen continued to press the issue, particularly over mailings from Clavin’s office about the current controversy surrounding the reassessment of property taxes in Nassau County.
“He has nothing at all to do with the reassessment system,” Gillen said. Gillen deemed the mailers politically deceptive and duplicative, as the county and its officials have already sent out their own mail about reassessment.
“Obviously there has been no shortage of information about the assessment system,” Gillen said.
In a statement from Clavin handed out prior to the press conference, he referred to Gillen as the “fluff mail champion,” and found irony in the fact that the Gillen criticized his office’s mailings on the reassessments.
“It seems kind of ironic that the Supervisor objects to this guide while she has no issue spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on town-wide promotional fliers…” Clavin wrote.
Gillen speculated that the mailers were a “shameless attempt to build a cult of personality,” by Clavin’s communications director Michael Deery, the former town spokesman for Santino.
“I doubt any other municipality has a tax collector who has a $200,000 communications director,” Gillen said.