Mastic Beach officials have created a team to dissolve the village with the hope of returning to Brookhaven Town’s jurisdiction by the end of the year.
The team consists of Mayor Maura Spery, trustee Joseph Johnson and resident Robert Miller, who initiated the petition drive to disband the 6-year-old municipality. They met in late December to discuss the pending lawsuits against the village, advocate for Brookhaven to hire a few of the village employees, and sell equipment.
Additionally, the committee needs to find ways to pay off the $900,000 bond debt on Village Hall and oversee transferring records and information to Brookhaven. Village residents, in a 1,922 to 1,215 vote in November, approved a plan to disband.
Spery, Johnson and Miller plan to meet twice by the end of January and could possibly bring in more local or state officials for guidance. Albany-based municipal consulting firmLaberge Group is working with the village.
“We’re going to work on this plan and get it done,” Miller said, adding that the target date to rejoin Brookhaven is Dec. 31, 2017.
During the transition period, Mastic Beach will continue to fine residents for housing, building and rental code violations in hopes that Brookhaven will handle those cases, Spery said. “Some residents believe they don’t have to pay tickets anymore,” she said.
Dissolving the village is having an effect on government operations already. Village Hall will close every day at 1 p.m., Spery said. The decision was made in a resolution approved by the board of trustees in December.
“We’re dissolved and we don’t have the funding to provide all these services,” Spery said. Because of a shortage of employees, many of the workers who staff the Village Hall front desk will instead help with paperwork related to rejoining Brookhaven.
“We don’t have the personnel to man the front desk,” Spery said.
State legal guidelines, with their many steps, could extend the village as a municipality for as long as a year. But Spery said the board wants to move the process along as quickly as possible and not waste time.
Since the board has already discussed a reorganization plan, it has about six months to approve a plan by resolution, according to state rules. At least one public hearing must be held no later than 90 days after that resolution is approved.
State law also allows, under certain circumstances, a referendum vote on the reorganization plan itself. But state law mandates that the vote to dissolve can’t be overturned.
A small number of village residents hold out hope that the decision can be changed, Spery said.
Mastic Beach is the last new village to be created in New York State. But from the start, it faced operating challenges, with its first mayor, Paul Breschard, resigning midway through his first term, citing tension on the village board. The village has had three mayors, six treasurers, five attorneys and three clerks since it was incorporated.
Mastic Beach’s move to dissolve
- The village created a committee to work on dissolution
- Officials said they hope to have the village rejoin Brookhaven Town on Dec. 31, 2017.
- Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine will meet later this month with the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association to discuss the transition back to Brookhaven.