City, Town & Village Governments
New York State Government
U.S. Government

Living and Working

Breadcrumb Start you are here >Home/News Releases/2010

Maragos stops payment of $1.2m contract improperly approved by Suozzi Administration as part of investigation of $68.3m in last minute contracts

 

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos found the Department of Public Works, under the prior administration, authorized an additional $1.2 million to a road reconstruction contract of $3.5 million during their final days in office. The “change order” was authorized by the then commissioner of public works, to do additional roads not enumerated in the original bid.

"This contract was rushed by the prior administration and appears to have sidestepped the County procedures required to authorize this amount of money,” Comptroller Maragos said. “My office will not authorize this contract or any contract for payment that does not follow County policy.”

The original contract was authorized in January of 2008 for $3,585,000 for specific road reconstruction.The additional $1,234,200 was authorized on December 23, 2009 for roads not named in the original contract and for payment of work already performed. County policy requires prior approval for change orders that exceed 10% of the original contract. If the change order calls for additional work that goes beyond the scope of the original contract, and is not considered emergency services, County policy requires a new contract or there is no obligation to pay.The $1.2 million addition is 34% of the original contract for non-emergency work.

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos further found the prior administration rushed to authorize $68.3 million in contracts in December of 2009 before leaving office, including $11.7 million during the last 7 days.  These amounts are over twice the contract amounts approved compared to similar periods during the prior 2 years (see chart below). This is especially troubling as the office of the prior Comptroller was verbally requested to refrain from approving new contracts during the transition period.

"We are reviewing all of these contracts to insure that taxpayer money is being well spent,” Comptroller Maragos said. “Unnecessary or patronage contracts will be cancelled or renegotiated. Some contracts are especially disconcerting.”

One lease was approved on December 24, 2009 to house a police precinct in Baldwin. Under the lease, the County agreed to expend approximately $9.3 million in construction costs. A number of contracts totaling millions from the social services departments provide for service to the County at costs well above retail or market costs. Another last minute contract was a change order authorized by the Department of Public Works on December 23 for $1.23 million, or a 34% overrun, in violation of County rules which require prior approval on change orders over 10%.

"The Comptroller’s Office finds objectionable the haste to spend money when the County is running large deficits and taxpayers are unable to afford their mortgages and their high property taxes,” Comptroller Maragos added. “After the detailed review of these year end contracts we will proceed to review all other contracts to verify that they are necessary and that the County is receiving the value intended.”

CONTRACTS PROCESSED DEC 1 - DEC 31

($'s in millions)

2009

2008

2007

Month of December

68.3

31.5

22.2

Last week in December

11.7

1.3

3.9