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Mastic Beach, facing steep tax hike, looks at possible cuts

An overflow crowd attends the Mastic Beach budget

An overflow crowd attends the Mastic Beach budget meeting at Village Hall on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. Calls for Mayor Maura Spery's resignation were made by some residents angry over her proposed $4.7 million spending plan that would boost taxes by as much as 125 percent. Photo Credit: Newsday / Deon J. Hampton

With the village facing a proposed 125 percent tax hike, Mastic Beach’s first two mayors have parachuted in to help rescue the village from its fiscal woes.

The village’s budget advisory committee, led in part by former mayors Bill Biondi and Paul Breschard, recommended Wednesday night a host of draconian proposals, from reducing employee work hours, cutting health premiums and laying off employees with the goal of keeping village taxes from skyrocketing.

Biondi suggested that the board of trustees waive their stipends, which board members agreed to do last week for a savings of $42,000; postpone a $30,000 purchase of accounting software; and operate Village Hall four days a week instead of five.

Among other cost-cutting recommendations, Biondi said that the salary of Susan Alevas, who earns $125,000 annually as village clerk and administrator, could be cut by $30,000.

Wednesday night’s meeting was not without drama: Suffolk County police were called to Village Hall to calm a raucous crowd of roughly 50 people who weren’t allowed into the budget meeting after the building reached capacity.

Mayor Maura Spery has proposed a $4.7 million spending package that would increase taxes by as much as 125 percent. The increase has been attributed to a $427,000 budgeting error that saw the village overspend approximately that amount on road maintenance.

The village has also depleted its $350,000 surplus on legal fees and insurance costs, officials said.

Nearly every public speaker called for Spery to immediately quit her position.

“Resign and rehold the election,” village resident Susan Steinmann said to a loud applause during the meeting.

“You all knew something was going on, look at yourselves in the mirror,” said a woman who only identified herself as Tracy.

Another speaker said she would lose her home as the result of the increasing taxes.

While Spery proposed the budget, the four remaining board members said they would not support such a spending plan.

“People are not going to be ignored. I have no intention to vote for a 125 percent tax increase,” said newly elected trustee Joseph Johnson. “I will do everything in my power to make this village tax neutral.”

It took two Suffolk officers and a handful of village code enforcement officers to control the loud crowd of residents as those outside the meeting shouted “We want in” and “The mayor should resign.”

Board members started the 7 p.m. meeting more than an hour late in order to install an outside speaker for residents to listen in the breezy, chilly weather.

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