Mastic Beach officials say they will have to find another insurance company to provide legal protection to members of the village board of trustees.
The officials said the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal — a company formed by local governments to provide insurance to elected officials — plans to cancel its policy with Mastic Beach next month because of issues related to lawsuits.
Mastic Beach as a whole will continue to have insurance coverage, but the company is terminating the public officials section of the policy on Nov. 22, officials said. That part of the policy protects the five-member board in case of litigation.
That means village officials will have to pay for their own attorneys if they are named as a defendant in any lawsuit involving the municipality.
NYMIR representatives didn’t return multiple messages. A letter it sent to the village last month reads, in part: “We will not renew this policy when it expires,” adding this was due to “poor loss history.”
Several village officials said board members were being dropped from the policy due to a series of lawsuits filed against the local government in recent years. The number of pending lawsuits the village faces wasn’t immediately known.
Village Mayor Maura Spery said that board members would not serve the public if they are forced to pay out-of-pocket attorney fees in the event of lawsuits.
“Not if anyone can just file a lawsuit against us,” she added.
She said the termination is another black eye for the village, which has a referendum vote set for Nov. 16 on the question of whether to unincorporate or continue as a village government.
“It’s an embarrassment,” Spery said, adding that NYMIR threatened to cancel the entire village policy last year before she had a two-hour meeting with the group. She said she fears the entire policy will be canceled in 2017.
Village attorney J. David Eldridge, in an interview, said the village has begun searching for a new insurance provider to insure board members.
He said he was confident Mastic Beach would find a new insurance company before the existing policy ends, but he expects the village to pay higher deductible and premium costs.
Some of the lawsuits stem from former village administrator/senior code enforcement officer Tim Brojer, who is now the village administrator in Northport.
Last month, Mastic Beach officials said Brojer improperly conducted background checks and searches on more than 400 village residents. In November of 2014, Brojer was named as a defendant in a civil suit filed by Florida resident Douglas Jorif, who charged that he was unfairly blocked from moving into his newly built house in the village after first being allowed to build it.