Long Beach draft audit shows $500,000 in payouts

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Jack Schnirman during his campaign for Nassau County comptroller in 2017. (Photo Courtesy of Kim Devlin)

Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman was overpaid by the City of Long Beach when he left his job there as city manager, a state audit has found, according to Newsday.

The draft audit by the office of the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, said Schnirman was among 10 former and current Long Beach employees who received more than $500,000 in excessive separation payments. The city said it would seek to recover the money.

The audit found that Schnirman, a Democrat, was overpaid $52,780, almost half of his $108,000 payout from Long Beach. 

Schnirman was paid $73,113 for 100 percent of his unused sick time, which exceeded the city cap of 30 percent, the audit found.  He was also paid $34,910 for 419 hours of vacation time he did not use, which also exceeded city caps of either 50 days or 400 hours.

Schnirman has said he relied on the city to calculate how much he was owed and would return any funds found to have been paid in error, according to Newsday.

Officials from the state are working with Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas to determine whether there was any criminal conduct.  

City Council President Anissa Moore has been working with Singas to ensure that the city’s payouts comply with the city code.

“This is a clear abuse of power.  This is a clear abuse of public trust,” Moore said during an Aug. 20 City Council meeting. “We will get to the bottom of this, and we intend to seek restitution for all that’s owed to the city.”

Moore expressed frustration with employees who approved the payoffs at a Tuesday news conference at Long Beach City Hall.  Beside her was Don Clavin, the Hempstead receiver of taxes who is running for town supervisor.

Clavin, a Republican, called for Schnirman to resign as county comptroller and for  Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen to fire her chief of staff, James LaCarrubba. 

LaCarrubba was the public works commissioner in Long Beach for four years before retiring in 2016, when he received a $65,435 payout. He was then hired for a part-time labor relations role as well as a consultant on restoration projects from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  LaCarrubba served one more year as a full-time public works consultant on a $130,000 salary and received a $20,967 payout before being hired by Gillen as her chief of staff.

Clavin asked the town’s ethics committee to investigate to ensure that there are no further instances of accruing excess amounts of paid time off.

LaCarrubba said he welcomed an investigation and had done nothing wrong, according to Newsday.

The audit was the conclusion to a 16-month-long investigation. The report showed that previous city managers were paid up to 100 percent of sick time dating back as far as 2008.  

“This didn’t start yesterday,” Moore said in reference to the city’s lengthy history of noncompliance with the city code. “This is something that has been going on for a very long time. So for 25 years, the residents here have carried the burden of mismanagement.”

 

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