Moody’s Investors Service has contacted Mastic Beach about its exhausted surplus, overspending on road maintenance by more than $400,000 and other financial woes the village is facing, officials revealed at Tuesday’s village board meeting.
Village leaders said they believe their credit rating will drop and borrowing rates increase as a result of the fiscal issues, and they have contacted the New York state comptroller’s office for guidance.
“I would welcome a state audit,” said village treasurer Anne Abel, who was hired Sept. 29.
A spokesman for Moody’s would not discuss what, if any, role the service is playing in the village.
“All discussions are confidential,” said the spokesman, David Jacobson.
Currently, the village has an A1 rating with the service, the fifth highest, which was issued on Oct. 30, 2013.
Mayor Maura Spery has proposed a $4.7 million spending package for 2016 that would increase taxes by as much as 125 percent.
The increase is largely due to a $427,000 budgeting error that saw the 5-year-old village overspend approximately that amount on road maintenance. Two former mayors, Paul Brechard and Bill Biondi, were brought in last week to lead a budget advisory committee looking into the overspending.
Abel offered two options for the board to consider for its 2016-2017 budget. One is to adopt an 88 percent budget increase that would include fewer work hours for village employees. The second would be to adopt a 53 percent budget increase and ask the state comptroller’s office to help find ways to cover the $430,000 shortfall. She didn’t provide additional details.
Board members rejected Spery’s motion to pierce the state’s cap at Tuesday’s meeting.
“This village is remaining tax neutral,” trustee Joseph Johnson said moments before the board, in a 3-1 vote, denied Spery’s proposal.
The meeting, at times chaotic with outbursts from the audience and residents randomly walking to the podium to speak, had been moved from Village Hall to the William Paca Middle School to accommodate the nearly 200 people in attendance. It lasted 3 1/2 hours. Last week’s budget meeting at Village Hall, which allows a maximum of 95 people, was filled to capacity leaving dozens of people to listen outside in the chilly weather.
Resident Susan Steinmann, who four times spoke longer than the allowed three minutes, wanted the measure piercing the cap voted down.
“I don’t think the residents would be comfortable,” she said during her first time at the podium. “People would have more confidence in regaining the trust of the village if we vote this down.”
Others believe some type of an increase is necessary.
“It’s a joke if you think we can stay tax neutral. I’m against a 125 percent increase, but we do need an increase,” resident John Mutt said.