Former Southampton Town comptroller and Brookhaven finance commissioner Charlene Kagel was appointed Greenport treasurer Friday night at a special Village Board meeting attended by only three of the five members.
Ms. Kagel’s appointment could have been made by Mayor David Nyce without Village Board approval, but the mayor opted to include the trustees in interviews and in the selection of Ms. Kagel. The vote was 3-0 with Trustees Chris Kempner and Michael Osinski absent.
Ms. Kagel will fill the position left open when the board chose not to reappoint Susan Pisano at its annual reorganizational meeting in April out of concern that the former treasurer lacked sufficient skills to handle the job, board members said at the time.
Ms. Kagel will work a minimum of 20 hours a week for the village at an annual salary of $59,000 and will be expected to attend Village Board work sessions on her own time.
In the months since Ms. Pisano left the village, clerk Silvia Lazzari Pirillo has been acting treasurer.
Ms. Kagel comes to the village with her own background of controversy. During her tenure in Southampton, Ms. Kagel was accused by then Supervisor Linda Kabot of “bad record keeping” in connection with what was initially thought to be a large shortfall in the town’s $80 million budget.
“It’s all there in the spreadsheets,” Ms. Kagel told reporters at the time, saying that board members didn’t know how to read the spreadsheets and wouldn’t let her explain them.
“I tried to tell them some of these things about the budget,” Ms. Kagel was quoted as saying at the time. “They didn’t want to hear it,” she said.
The comments made by Ms. Kabot about M. Kagel are “not only incorrect, but deliberately disparaging,” Ms. Kagel was quoted as saying in January 2009.
Ms. Kagel subsequently went to work as Brookhaven Town finance commissioner, in which capacity she paid the MTA payroll tax levied against all Long Island and other metro area municipalities, school districts and businesses by the state legislature in May 2009, despite debate over whether the Town Board had authorized the controversial payment. Officials said Ms. Kagel could be charged with a misdemeanor for paying the tax without a corresponding budget line, according to town officials.
Brookhaven Councilman Timothy Mazzei (R-Blue Point), an attorney, offered free legal services to Ms. Kagel should any action be brought against her, it was reported at the time. No such charges have surfaced.
But the following month, Ms. Kagel was stripped of her title and demoted to deputy commissioner by Democratic Supervisor Mark Lesko and a majority of the Brookhaven Town Board, who chose John O’Neill, another Democrat and former budget director for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, as commissioner. Ms. Kagel is a Republican.
Ms. Pisano came under fire a number of times from Village Board members who expressed dissatisfaction 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 Nyce said at the time 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 was appointed as a part-time treasurer in June 2008 at an annual salary of $40,000 that grew to $59,000 by the time she left the village.
In a letter to the editor, Ms. Pisano said the Village Board was at fault for any problems they’d had for having failed to make the job a full-time position.