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Mastic Beach, facing financial issues, reduces its workforce

"It's going to be very difficult to function," Mastic Beach Mayor Maura Spery said Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Above, she attends her first board meeting on April 14, 2015. Credit: Veronique Louis

The Village of Mastic Beach is left with three full-time workers after implementing a round of layoffs on Tuesday.

Mastic Beach had 11 full-time employees and 20 part-time employees in early May, but as financial pressures mounted, it began layoffs. Along with the three full-time employees, the village now has roughly 15 part-time employees.

The three full-time positions are those of the clerk/administrator, deputy treasurer and a department of public works mechanic, officials said.

It represents a reversal for Mastic Beach, which broke away from Brookhaven Town by incorporating on Aug. 30, 2010, with the goal of becoming a successful village.

Shrinking the workforce will make it difficult to provide basic code enforcement and road paving services, Mayor Maura Spery said.

“It’s going to be very difficult to function,” Spery said in an interview at Village Hall. “We were barely providing services” before.

The staff reductions came as the village board in April adopted a $3.8 million tax-neutral 2016-2017 budget that included layoffs. The mayor and board members also gave up their $18,000-a-year stipends.

Residents can also expect a bond note to pay for what officials said in April was overspending on a road project by $430,000.

Union Local 342, which represents the village workforce, has filed an improper labor practice charge with the New York State Public Employment Relations Board over the layoffs. The village attorney, Guy Germano, said that charge was deemed deficient by the relations board. He said the union can refile it by June 27.

With a shrunken workforce, Village Hall had a busy day with dozens of residents seeking help or information being aided by a part-time receptionist and a full-time staffer. As the end of the work day neared, some employees being let go spent their last hours contemplating their next move.

“I’m going back to look for work,” said Maureen Getchell, the village’s communication director.

Trustee Joseph Johnson, who helped craft the budget, remained optimistic that residents wouldn’t see a drop in services.

“Is it ideal? No, but we’ll have the staff to run the village,” Johnson said, noting Mastic Beach will need to hire additional part-time employees to work 30 hours per week to cover such positions as a code enforcement supervisor, typist and mayoral secretary.

The positions pay between $13 and $15 per hour without benefits.

“Services won’t improve in the short term but they will in the long term,” Johnson said.

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