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Mastic Beach faces steep tax increases or sharp spending cuts

Mastic Beach village hall is seen in this

Mastic Beach village hall is seen in this undated photo. Credit: Johnny Milano

The financial viability of Mastic Beach may rest with Friday night’s budget vote at Village Hall.

Board members are at odds over a 2016-2017 spending plan. Officials say the choices may come down to either a significant increase in homeowner’s tax bills, or, in an effort to reduce spending, a number of full-time village employees could become part-time and without health insurance.

Another option discussed is to close Village Hall at least two days a week to save money.

Municipal budgets statewide are due by May 1.

Mayor Maura Spery, a proponent of raising village taxes, originally introduced a $4.7 million budget that would increase taxes 125 percent - or as much as $400 for some homeowners - to help combat a deficit of roughly $430,000.

In a 3-1 decision last week, the board majority voted not to pierce the state-mandated cap. Village taxes have not increased since its incorporation in 2010.

Spery’s plan has angered many residents who have packed the last two board meetings, loudly voicing their displeasure.

Alternatively, trustees Anne Snyder and Joseph Johnson have pushed their own budget with the help of former village mayors Paul Breschard and Bill Biondi.

In a Wednesday phone interview, Johnson said his tax-neutral budget would mandate that approximately 10 full-time village employees work part-time and without health benefits.

He said legal counsel is researching whether the village can institute and collect franchise fees for utility poles and local businesses and chain business such as 7-Eleven.

Johnson believes his spending plan would make up for the $430,000 deficit and add $350,000 in surplus. Under his plan, Village Hall would operate five days a week.

“The board is going to have to make an informed decision,” Johnson said of his budget. “We’ve been put in a precarious spot.”

Spery countered that her proposed budget is the best option.

Meanwhile, village treasurer Anne Abel has presented two other spending plans that raise taxes 88 percent and 53 percent, respectfully.

In addition, Moody’s Investors Service has contacted village officials about Mastic Beach’s finances, raising the possibility that the service could drop Mastic Beach’s bond rating.

Currently, the village has an A1 rating with the service, the fifth highest.

The budget meeting starts at 5 p.m.

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