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Mastic Beach’s finances worsen, revenue below expectations

Mastic Beach Mayor Maura Spery says financial problems

Mastic Beach Mayor Maura Spery says financial problems have led to cuts in services such as street sweeping and trash pickups on village streets. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Three months after its $3.8 million budget was adopted, Mastic Beach’s finances have worsened, with revenue projections falling below expectations.

Board members anticipated $100,000 in revenue in the 2016-2017 budget by imposing franchise fees on local businesses, and planned to raise additional money through aggressive code enforcement on village homeowners.

However, Mastic Beach has yet to collect any money from franchise fees, and there is confusion within the government as to what such fees are and what businesses they would apply to. Normally, such fees apply, for example, to utility companies.

Making the village’s financial matters worse, revenue from parking and housing-code violations has not met expectations because the village laid off its code dispatcher responsible for processing citations. Exact figures on the amount of money collected from code violations were not available.

Trustees Anne Snyder and Joseph Johnson crafted the budget and proposed imposing the franchise fees on convenience stores such as 7-Eleven. Village Treasurer Anne Abel opposed the idea.

“We questioned the franchise fees and didn’t want it in the budget. We warned them,” Abel said.

Abel said she asked Snyder during budget season about how imposing such fees would work, but never got an answer. Asked in a recent interview just what they are, Abel said: “I have no clue, she hasn’t given me anything.”

Snyder did not return phone calls asking for comment.

Asked in a phone interview what the fees are and whom they would apply to, Johnson could not give specifics and referred questions to Abel.

For her part, village Mayor Maura Spery, who proposed a budget that increased taxes 125 percent and which was rejected by board members, said Snyder and Johnson haven’t mentioned the fees since the budget was approved.

“I haven’t heard one word,” Spery said. “You would think that getting that revenue was at the top of their list.”

Abel said the village can’t cut any more services to make up revenue.

“I don’t know of any place where there is fat,” she said.

Spery said many of the code enforcement tickets issued last month that might have brought in more revenue were adjourned in village court. She said hundreds of other violations haven’t been processed because the municipality laid off the village employee whose primary job was to file parking and code enforcement citations.

Last month, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Mastic Beach six levels to noninvestment grade, citing financial instability, overspending by $400,000 on a road project, a declining tax base and operating at a deficit for three consecutive years.

“We don’t sweep the streets now, nor do we pick up trash on the streets,” Spery said. “We are providing the bare minimum of services.”

Mastic Beach Village

The 2016-2017 budget went into effect June 1.

Mastic Beach incorporated on Aug. 30, 2010. Currently, a petition seeks to dissolve the village.

Moody’s Investors Services recently downgraded the village’s finances from A1 to Ba1 because of Mastic Beach’s poor fiscal situation.

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