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OPINION: Mastic Beach voters need a lot more information

Maura Spery lives in Mastic Beach.

The Mastic Beach Village Exploration Committee has been working hard for the past several years to incorporate Mastic Beach. Signatures have been gathered, the Town of Brookhaven has approved them, and a vote by residents will be taken soon.

I'm not against the incorporation of our community per se, but is it too much to ask for some more information?

Many citizens have expressed concerns about this proposal, because we have not seen a comprehensive five-year projected budget or any business plan.

The committee claims that the village will be cost neutral, but how are we to know? After two years the committee has produced only one page, a summary of projected revenues and expenses, which was based on the Village of Sagaponack's budget. That's the most expensive small town in America, according to Business Week!

This is not smart business. The committee has yet to show any plan that goes beyond voting in a village. In 2008, an attorney for the Pattersquash Creek Civic Association, the group the Mastic Beach Exploratory Committee is under, said that "prior to a vote for incorporating, village organizers will conduct a feasibility study that will explore, in part, how creating a village would affect property taxes." But there still has been no study.

Residents should be forgiven for their skepticism about the likelihood of "tax neutrality." Where is the evidence from more than two years of exploration that incorporating is the prudent decision? How can the citizens of Mastic Beach invest in this new venture without a plan or budget? What investor does that?

Unfortunately, a bill proposed by Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) that would have addressed this problem has languished in Albany. It would require a feasibility study - including a proposed operating budget, a proposed capital budget, a description of the services to be provided and an estimated five-year property tax impact - before any village petition process begins. But even without that law, don't residents deserve this information?

Mastic Beach voters deserve the facts. We should vote "no" on the incorporation of Mastic Beach until we get them.


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