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DeSena Applauds TNH Building Department Audit

By Mike O’Reilly


Nassau Comptroller Elaine Phillips has completed a requested Audit of the Town of North Hempstead’s often controversial Building Department, and Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena (R-Manhasset) – who called for the audit – is pleased with the results and recommendations.


DeSena requested the independent audit back in July of 2022. The need for such an audit became apparent following the numerous scandals and complaints from the public.


Under the former Democratic administration, the Building Department was a scandal-plagued nightmare for town residents to deal with.  Building inspectors were arrested for taking bribes, and just last summer, the Building Commissioner John Niewender was suspended for misconduct.


The Republicans won a 4-3 majority on the Town Board only this past November, the first Republican majority in 35 years.


One of the most notable issues exposed by the audit was the lack of accountability and oversight by Building Department employees.


“There are many issues, but for me, the most notable was oversight,” stated DeSena.


Comptroller Phillips’ office conducted a detailed audit of each stage of the building permit process, reviewing multiple records, interviewing public users, building department employees, architects and others.


The most important deficiencies unearthed by the Comptroller’s audit are as follows:

·   - The Town implemented new software which ostensibly allowed the public to file and track their permit requests, but in reality the Town failed to utilize the software correctly, resulting in very dissatisfied and frustrated public users.

·   - Operational issues within the Building Department due to lack of standardized procedures and oversight.

- Lack of communication and transparency between the Building Department personnel and the public.


Perhaps this audit report can serve as a road map to improve the efficiency and transparency of other agencies.


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