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If not for Len: Village treasurer responds to statements critical of predecessor

Opinion / Letters June 27, 2022

The Plank House, located at Scudder Beach, is where the Northport Village Treasurer Department’s offices are located, and was a topic brought up at the June 7 board meeting.

Below is a letter to Northport Village Mayor Donna Koch from Village Treasurer Siobhan Costello, in response to remarks made during the June 7 board meeting regarding the hiring of former Treasurer Len Marchese as a financial consultant. You can find more information regarding this matter here. Ms. Costello shared the letter with the Northport Journal for publication.

Dear Mayor Koch,

I would like to respond to statements that were made at the last board meeting regarding Leonard Marchese.

I began in the treasurer’s department 12 years ago. At that time the village was just reeling from a treasurer who overpaid herself one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The department was well behind on its financial statements and the filing of the AUD, bank reconciliations were a mess. There had not been a financial audit done. The board and the new treasurer tried to right it by hiring two separate auditing firms for over $300,000 to correct the mistakes.

During this time, myself and the former deputy treasurer worked solely with the auditors. After having the treasurer there for five years and still paying outside auditors and with the suggestion of the deputy treasurer and myself did the board decide to relieve the treasurer of their duties and ask Mr. Marchese to please come on board as the new treasurer with us as his team. Len immediately got to business. He hired a new local firm to begin a financial audit. We were able to then get the bank reconciliations in order and the financial statements and AUD filed in a timely fashion. We were also able to begin having the village’s financial audits being done annually. If not for Len, I am not sure where the village’s finances would be.

Along with Len’s municipal finance expertise, he is also a master negotiator for union and PBA contracts. He renegotiated the PBA contract and saved the village hundreds of thousands of dollars. He is a very well respected and an exceptional professional whose interests lie in making the village’s finances run smoothly. Sure, there has been bumps along the way but they were remedied right away. I would like to point out that the Plank house did not cost over $400,000 to build. Trustee Sabia is incorrect with those numbers. The bottom line is we budgeted $200,000 in one year plus $50,000 in the second year. Just like any other project there were changes made.

I would also like to add that the village was able with the guidance of Mr. Marchese to refinance our fire department debt and save over 300k and maximize FEMA and state and federal grants, which lead to almost a zero-cost upgrade of the sewer operation.

Also, villages need reserves for emergency situations like Covid and or natural disasters.

I have professionally gained an enormous amount of knowledge from Len. He has been my mentor for the last seven years. I know that the village needs Len’s expertise in the financial workings of the village. As both the treasurer and the IT specialist for the village, I believe the village still needs outside input from a financial expert. Just like we commission an attorney, engineers and IT security company for their expertise on law, engineering and technology expertise. Keeping Mr. Marchese on as a consultant to the treasurer’s department will not only benefit the board, the union and the police, but will also benefit the residents of this village.

I would like to thank Mayor Koch for her foresight in enacting this contract with Mr. Marchese to keep the village running as it is with a triple A bond rating, the best you can get, and with no need to borrow outside funding sources for the upkeep and enhancements to this beautiful village.

The village can only continue to benefit from Len Marchese’s incredible knowledge and his 35 year career as a municipal financial employee. I am sure I speak for the deputy treasurer as well when I say that we are a great team who will continue to make this a great village to live in.

Siobhan Costello
Northport Village Treasurer