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Brightwaters to vote on compensation for elected officials

The Village of Brightwaters Village Hall is shown

The Village of Brightwaters Village Hall is shown on Thursday, March 30, 2017. The village has passed a budget that calls for paying village trustees. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The Brightwaters Village Board has proposed a $2.6 million budget that for the first time includes stipends for elected officials.

The new budget’s 3.5 percent tax increase, about $50 per household, is not affected by the proposed stipends, which total $20,400 for the five elected officials, said Mayor Joe McDermott.

The tax increase will require the board to vote to pierce the state-mandated tax cap, which this year is 1.3 percent, he said.

McDermott defended his resolution to pay the mayor $6,000 and trustees $3,600 annually as in line with most other villages on Long Island.

“I feel the trustees and the mayor work hard and are on call 24/7, and they should be compensated for the time put into the village,” he said. “We’re one of the ones who don’t get compensated with health insurance or a stipend.”

The compensation amounts were designed to be modest, McDermott said. “It was just a low number. I tried to figure how many hours we put in and what would be fair. I didn’t want to come out of the gate with such a high number,” he said.

A handful of villages on Long Island have volunteer boards of trustees, such as Nissequogue, Poquott and Belle Terre. Brightwaters trustees used to receive free lifetime health insurance after 10 years’ service until the village ended the practice in 2011.

The board voted 4-1 at the March 20 midmonth meeting in favor of putting the compensation resolution to a ballot proposition for residents. Trustee Carmine Chiappetta voted against the resolution.

“We were elected to perform this job on a purely voluntary basis and we should continue in that vein,” Chiappetta said.

If the proposition fails to win approval, the $20,400 will go into the contingency budget, McDermott said.

The new budget also includes lower garbage fees, which will decrease by about $21.34 per household. The budget includes $10,000 for Gilbert Park upgrades, and new equipment for the village beach.

McDermott said the tax increase was largely driven by a $56,000 increase in the cost of the village’s contracts with Bay Shore Fire District and Bay Shore-Brightwaters Rescue Ambulance. Both districts are bonding for new facilities this year.

The board will vote on piercing the cap and hold a public hearing on the budget at its monthly meeting Monday at 8 p.m. in Village Hall. The deadline to pass a budget is May 1.

Chiappetta said if the compensation resolution is approved, he wants the law to go into effect after this current board’s terms are finished.

“If this does pass, it should be enacted prospectively and not retroactively, and only for the newly elected board,” he said. “It breaks with village tradition of doing this job for the village and not for personal monetary gain.”

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