Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a city probe of a Brooklyn community board that shelled out $26,000 in public funds for a hybrid SUV — reportedly for the board manager who lives just four blocks from his office.
“I’m really surprised by this and I’m not happy about it and I don’t think that it was right for the community board to do that,” the mayor said on WNYC Friday.
“I think the Department of Investigation needs to look into that and I hope they will do that quickly,” he said.
A caller named Jason from Brooklyn had asked de Blasio about the splurge that was originally reported by the nonprofit news service The City.
“I don’t really understand why a community board would need a $26,000 SUV to get around their small community,” Jason said.
“What’s being done to provide additional oversight into what community boards do with their funding?” he asked.
The vehicle purchase, by members of Community Board 1 in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, was made five months ago through a city grant. Other boards spent their grants on a historical preservation report and software to help field constituent complaints.
The white Toyota RAV4 Hybrid was recently spotted outside Community Board 1 manager Gerald Esposito’s Conselyea Street apartment — four blocks from the board’s offices at Foster Street and Graham Avenue.
The board said in a statement that it voted in August 2018 to buy the SUV, adding that it is for “official business.”
The city has 59 community boards made up of largely volunteer members selected by borough presidents and council members but also salaried staff including managers like Esposito, who made over $120,000 last year. The groups are purely advisory and opine on local matters like land use projects, street fair permits and liquor licenses.
The mayor said the incident “does beg a question that we need some greater checks and balances” on community board spending.
“We got to figure out some way to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again, and certainly that should be in part the Department of Investigation and I think in part our Office of Management and Budget,” de Blasio said.
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