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Long Beach hires new comptroller

City taps Nassau Community College finance V.P. to help in fiscal recovery

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Following a two-year vacancy, the city has hired a new comptroller as part of its long-term fiscal recovery plan, city officials said.

Inna Reznik, a vice president of finance at Nassau Community College — she also served as comptroller at the college from 2008 to 2014 — is set to begin her position with the city on July 8 at an annual salary of $178,500, and help implement a financial strategy as the city’s chief financial officer.

“Inna has a track record of success that speaks for itself,” Acting City Manager Rob Agostisi told the Herald. “Her quasi-public sector experience, where she dealt directly with the Nassau County Legislature, coupled with her private sector experience at Deloitte & Touche, makes her eminently qualified for this position.”

The city has been without a full-time comptroller since 2017. Former Comptroller Kristie Hansen-Hightower continues to work as a consultant, and will stay in that role during a transition period.

“There will be a gradual phase-out as the new comptroller slowly familiarizes herself with the many intricacies associated with the job,” Agostisi said.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office said that Long Beach remained in “significant fiscal stress” — the highest level under DiNapoli’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System — in 2018 for the second consecutive year, again citing short-term borrowing, a deteriorating fund balance, structurally imbalanced budgets and operating deficits as main factors.

Moody’s Investors Service also recently downgraded Long Beach’s credit rating from Baa1 to Baa2 — just two notches above junk bond status.

Following the departure of former City Manager Jack Schnirman after he was elected Nassau County comptroller in 2017, the city had been without a permanent city manager and a full-time city comptroller, and Moody’s said in February that the lack of a management team added to the city’s financial pressure.

Agostisi, who was appointed in January, said that hiring a qualified comptroller was one of his top priorities when he assumed the role. During budget presentations in May, he said he was close to hiring a new comptroller. The city has also hired a consulting firm to develop a long-term financial recovery plan, and is awaiting recommendations from the state’s Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments, which is conducting a comprehensive review of the city’s finances that could net $5 million in grants.

“A long-term fiscal recovery plan cannot be formulated or implemented without a comptroller, the city’s chief financial officer,” Agostisi said. “The comptroller’s position is truly our beating heart that ensures necessary funding is provided for all city-wide operations. This hire also addresses one of the major findings and/or concerns issued by the city’s internal auditors and by Moody’s Investors Service. In this sense, this hire is integral to the city’s overarching plan to restore its finances and financial credibility.”

The city said that Reznik is not entering into a contract with the city because hers is an exempt, “at-will” position hired by the city manager. The council only approves the hiring of the city manager and police commissioner, Agostisi said.

City Council members had an opportunity to meet with her informally, the city said on Wednesday.

For her part, Reznik — who has served as vice president of finance at NCC since 2014, overseeing comprehensive financial planning, accounting and budgets — said it was too early to lay out her plans to help turn the city’s finances around.

“I think to give my professional opinion at this time would be premature,” she said. “I need to familiarize myself with the operations of the city. The devil is in the details, and you can only get to those details when you actually become a part of the team.”

Reznik was a senior auditor and manager at Deloitte & Touche LLP from 2000 to 2008, and she conducted audits of large municipal corporations, higher-education institutions, transit authorities, pension plans and other organizations with revenues ranging from $4 billion to $42 billion, according to her resume.

“I did a lot of multitasking in my previous positions,” she said. “The fact that [the city] didn’t have a comptroller for two years, I’ll obviously need to pay attention to the day-to-day operations while at the same time, I would have to focus on the finances.”

Asked whether she felt pressure or concerns about job security, especially in an election year, Reznik said she’s looking forward to the challenge. “Obviously, job security is important to me,” she said. “I feel confident in my background and my skills, and I’m looking forward to demonstrate what I can bring to the plate here. And once I do that, I don’t think I will have any concerns.”

Darwin Yanes contributed to this story.