Hempstead rejects audit of town Building Department amid mismanagement claims

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A call to have an independent audit of the Hempstead Town Building Department amid claims of mismanagement has been rejected.

Nearly seven years after Superstorm Sandy, Susan Goldstone is still out of her Oceanside home. She tells News 12 that she blames unscrupulous contractors and massive bureaucratic red tape at the Hempstead Building Department.

Other homeowners, contractors and builders have also complained to the Hempstead Board that the Building Department is mismanaged and understaffed.

The board was set to vote on spending at least $300,000 on an independent audit of the department that would recommend efficiency changes. But at the last minute Tuesday, a group of board members surprised Supervisor Laura Gillen with their own plan.

The plan backed by a majority of board members would create their own independent review board of expert local volunteers and increase operating hours at the Building Department, at what they say would be very little taxpayer cost.

But Supervisor Gillen strongly rejected that idea.

“We need a fresh set of eyes,” she says. “Anyone who votes no on this audit is saying our building department is fine.”

But the board voted 5-2 rejecting the third-party audit and opened the door to the new plan. However, state Sen. John Brooks said Monday that if the town doesn't do its own audit he'd call for the state to do one.

“This is not a political thing,” says Goldstone. “It’s not a Democrat, Republican, Independent thing. It’s a human thing.”

News 12 has requested a comment from Sen. Brooks' office to see if he will move forward with recommending a state review of the Hempstead Building Department but has not yet heard back.

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