HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The U.S. Treasury Department is investigating how one Long Island town wound up with millions from the COVID-19 CARES Act.
Now, a group of elected officials is demanding a review of Hempstead town’s COVID spending, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday.
Sal Vaccaro of Floral Park is among the Long Island taxpayers angry about a controversy over CARES Act funding.
“We’ve got to come together at this point,” Vaccaro said.
Nassau County is accusing the Town of Hempstead of misusing and failing to share millions the town was “mistakenly” granted.
“It was very clear immediately there was an anomaly,” Rep. Kathleen Rice said.
Suffolk County received $257 million. Nassau County got $103 million. The Town of Hempstead was given $133 million. It was the only town in America to get those federal funds last spring.
“My requests have fallen on deaf ears at the Town of Hempstead,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
Curran, a Democrat, is asking Republican Town Supervisor Donald Clavin to help repay police, fire, and first responders.
“Why don’t you ask the real question. What did Nassau County do with their money?” Clavin said.
Nassau said the funds went to the Department of Health, contact tracers, first responders, and the county morgue.
Hempstead COVID spending will also include town payroll, general services, sanitation, and town building renovations, including touch-less bathrooms.
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The Treasury Department has said it will investigate Hempstead’s spending following a request from Rep. Rice.
“My hope is that this investigation is done expeditiously before this money disappears,” Rice said.
“That’s silly. Maybe they should recognize we are the largest township in America and are trying to stop a pandemic,” Clavin said.
As the Dec. 30 deadline to spend the funds approaches, the town announced a small portion will be going to public schools and special needs groups.
“In our school district, where many of our people are not able to afford laptops. They didn’t receive any money,” Hempstead Village trustee Waylyn Hobbs Jr. said.
Residents seem torn about the issue.
“Definitely should be transparent with what is going on,” one woman said.
“It’s not political. It’s about health. It’s about helping each other,” another said.
Taxpayers say COVID cooperation — “We’re all in this together” — is paramount now during this dire national crisis.
CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan contributed to this report
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