Village ousts treasurer

04/08/2010 12:00 AM |

In a not-altogether-surprising move, the Greenport Village Board replaced treasurer Susan Pisano at Thursday’s reorganization meeting, appointing village clerk Sylvia Lazzari Pirillo to serve as treasurer on an interim basis.

Ms. Pisano has come under fire a number of times from Village Board members who have been dissatisfied with her work. In addition, external auditors from Bollam, Sheedy, Torani and Co. LLP said in a report last year that Ms. Pisano lacked sufficient expertise to prepare financial statements and be up to date on accounting requirements.

Mayor David Nyce said Monday afternoon that the decision was prompted by the board’s desire to hire someone with more appropriate experience.

“The board felt that while Susan is very good at what she does,” it’s necessary to hire someone with more comprehensive accounting experience, he said.

Ms. Pisano has acknowledged that she needs more training, but elected not to comment on the change beyond saying she expects to serve as a consultant to Ms. Pirillo for financial matters.

Ms. Pirillo will continue to function as village clerk and assume the treasurer’s responsibilities until a permanent qualified candidate can be found, she said.

The mayor said he’s trying to work out an arrangement with Ms. Pisano that must be approved by the full Village Board. Because the change occurred in conjunction with the annual reorganization meeting, he’s also negotiating a severance package with her, he said.

Ms. Pisano was appointed as a part-time treasurer in June 2008 at an annual salary of $40,000 after Steve Brautigam resigned the post to take a job in Southampton. He was paid as a consultant for several months, working evenings to train Ms. Pisano. Last year, she received a $10,000 raise over the objections of Trustee Michael Osinski.

Initial criticisms arose when the village was slow in closing out its books for fiscal year 2007-08. At that time, Mr. Nyce attributed the delay to the transition from Mr. Brautigam to Ms. Pisano.

When former Trustee Bill Swiskey argued that Ms. Pisano should be brought on full time, the mayor responded that Mr. Brautigam was never a full-time treasurer. He split his time between that job and serving as utilities director. Currently, Jack Naylor serves as utilities director, so the mayor maintained that part-time hours Ms. Pisano worked as treasurer would be sufficient.

But Ms. Pisano has continued to garner criticism from Mr. Osinski, who has said she wasn’t responsive to some of his requests.

Then the mayor took issue last fall when Ms. Pisano recommended a change in the village’s banking relationship, urging a move from Capital One Bank to Bridgehampton National Bank because of what she called dissatisfaction with how Capital One was handling accounts. The mayor apologized to Capital One for the “perceived slight.” When the Village Board did move accounts to BNB last month, Mr. Nyce said it had nothing to do with dissatisfaction with Capital One.

Mr. Nyce accompanied his list of appointments with a “State of the Village” recap and a look ahead to what he and trustees hope to accomplish in the years ahead.

Topping his list of accomplishments is the receipt of $4 million in federal stimulus funds to help pay for the upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant. His administration also completed the sale of Clark’s Beach to the county and has a check for $1.7 million to show for it.

The village has started work on a five-year financial plan; secured grants for new downtown lighting and trees; completed public restrooms at Mitchell Park; rebuilt the Third Street playground; replaced Manor and Sterling bulkheads and repaired the bulkhead at the visitor’s dock; and completed drainage and paving work at Steamboat Corner, the mayor said.

Challenges on the board’s agenda include: renovations and a new fuel tank at the light plant; completion of the old schoolhouse project that is partially funded with grant money; work on the stormwater runoff abatement project; and continued efforts to improve the village’s infrastructure, parks and sewer system. Mr. Nyce and the board also will continue to develop long-term financial plans; apply for a Small Cities Community Development Block Grant to help fund housing improvements; and work to develop succession planning within the village utilities department.

The mayor’s three-year term ends next March along with the terms of Trustees George Hubbard and Mr. Osinski. None have announced their intentions, but Mr. Osinski has fueled rumors that he might step down by making comments at meetings about how many issues will become somebody else’s problem in the future. At the same time, he has made fewer such comments of late and is said to be on the fence about seeking re-election.

“The only decision I’m making now is that I’ll be shipping oysters at the end of next week,” Mr. Osinski said.

Only former Trustee Bill Swiskey has announced his intention to run again next year.

In other appointments made at the reorganization meeting:

* David Bauer replaces Darryl Volinski, who resigned from the Planning Board last month.

* Doug Moore becomes chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals for one year. He replaces Tanya Palmore, who resigned. Mr. Moore’s term on the ZBA runs until 2015, but if he is to remain as chairman, he would need to be reappointed to that post next year. David Corwin will complete the unexpired term of Kate McDowell and will serve until 2013.

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