Long Island school overpaid taxpayers, says audit

According to The New York Times, a recent audit has found that Long Island's Henry Viscardi School – a state-supported institution for severely disabled students – overbilled taxpayers by $835,074 over two years.

The audit covered the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 fiscal years. It revealed that, within that period, the school had been billing the state for the $550-per-month lease on a Lexus belonging to Edmund L. Cortez – the president of the institution's parent organization – as well as more than $500,000 that went towards salary, fringe benefits, and other expenses for Cortez and his secretary.

Viscardi is authorized to receive approximately $14 million in annual state aid, some of which will go towards paying an administration team to run the school. However, Viscardi argued that it was proper to seek reimbursement for the salaries of Cortez and his secretary, as the parent organization is involved in managing the school. The State Education Department said it plans to recover the money by deducting it from Viscardi's future payments.

The school is one of 11 in New York that were recently under threat of losing state funding as a result of proposed budget cuts, according to the Mineola Patch.

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