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Saturday, April 19, 2014
Sanitary district problems deeper than Sandy
(Page 4 of 5)
Herald File Photo
The Oceanside Sanitary District 7 headquarters on Mott Street in Oceanside.

Weitzman’s audit also claims the district did not seek proper approvals to use funds to fill a spending gap in 2006 — money he said could have been used to lower the tax rate. Sanitary District No. 7, which provides trash collection six days a week for more than 10,000 residents and more than 900 commercial businesses in Oceanside, is funded by taxpayers.

“Taxpayers have financed a million-dollar family,” he said.

The audit highlights the district’s extraordinary pay structure, which benefits select administrators, but pays far less to the people who actually pick up the garbage, Weitzman said.

For example, in 2008, Charles Scarlata was paid $224,569 to supervise roughly 55 employees. He was able to add $51,748 to his base salary of $146,245 by receiving payment for 92 comp days, which the audit said was for working extra hours. Additional benefits -- among them a $10,000 bonus, and health and dental insurance -- boosted his total compensation package for that year to $240,769, the audit said. By comparison, sanitation workers make from $17,000 to $79,550 a year, according to records. Moreover, district administrators are entitled to up to 800 days of termination pay -- or about 3½ years of salary -- when they leave. Laborers get up to 250 days, according to the audit. Because Charles Scarlata was the only employee whose payments for comp time were included in salary reports to the New York State retirement system, his pension upon retiring will be approximately $124,000 a year, auditors said.

Despite continuing to work as a district consultant, Michael Scarlata has no contract. Officials refused to provide auditors a written summary of his work, but said he fields requests from local community groups, responds to problems at schools and helps with labor negotiations, the audit said.

Nepotism is rampant, the audit said, with at least eight employees who appear to have family ties. “Sanitary District No. 7 has become the local family business on the public payroll,” Weitzman said.

Have things changed since the 2009 audit?

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