Sanitary district problems deeper than Sandy
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For example, a number of the district’s workers, the audit said, were working out of title. It found that workers who held civil service titles of “messenger” and “recycling worker” actually worked as an accountant, a secretary and a clerk. The employees were not tested for their positions, but were appointed by Michael Scarlata. The 2008 base salary for the accountant was $93,662; for the secretary, $96,662 and for the clerk, $88,404, which the audit said were much higher than the Nassau County salary range for those positions. In addition, it was found that the accountant did not have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, which is required by law.
The audit also found a lack of internal controls over cash disbursements, poor security over access to the fuel pumps ordinarily used to fuel district vehicles and a lack of competitive bids for goods and services.
Days after a damaging audit of Sanitary District 7 was released from the comptroller’s office, Scarlata, who was featured prominently in the audit as the receiver of an unusually high salary and unfair fringe benefits, was awarded a merit-based raise by the district’s Board of Commissioners.
Weitzman’s audit alleged dirty practices in the sanitary district and unfair treatment of workers, with Scarlata being the biggest recipient of favors. The audit alleged nepotism. Foe example, after the younger Scarlata was hired and replaced his father as supervisor, the elder Scarlata was hired as a consultant. The new supervisor was also granted two $300,000 life insurance policies—paid for by the sanitary district—and post-retirement pay of $25,000 a year for 15 years.
“The district made up its own rules for a small group of employees, while the majority of the laborers in the sanitary district had to play by the rules,” Weitzman said in the audit, adding that the salaries paid to those employees were higher than the typical range for the jobs they were performing.