Residents to Decide Fate of Mastic Beach Village

page 14_Layout 1.qxd• by Barbara LaMonica

Residents in the Incorporated Village of Mastic Beach are divided on whether to remain incorporated or to dissolve their municipality. Voters will head to the polls on November 16 to cast their votes on the referendum. Voting will be held from noon until 9 p.m. at the Mastic Beach Fire House, 265 Neighborhood Road in Mastic Beach.
Residents asked for clarity on ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes for this referendum during a meeting of the Pattersquash Creek Civic Association on Monday. Village Trustee Joseph Johnson clarified: A ‘Yes’ vote is a vote to dissolve the Village of Mastic Beach. A ‘No’ vote is a vote to continue the Village of Mastic Beach.
Asked about the nuances of continuing as an incorporated village, Mayor Maura Spery said there are cost factors attached with the municipality: “I think the village can be an effective form of government but the people have to understand that you have to raise taxes substantially to cover the costs for services,” Spery explained. Noting the village’s 88 miles of roadways to maintain and pave, 2,000 rental properties of which an estimated 1,500 are illegal, and anywhere between 350 and 500 zombie houses all located within the confines of the incorporated village, Spery said providing upkeep of roads and infrastructure coupled with code enforcement and improving the quality of life all come with a financial impact. “These all come with substantial of amounts of money of which the cost is born by village taxpayers, and as long as the majority of the people are willing to pay for these services,” Spery said, “an incorporated village can work.” Citing statistics, Spery estimates village taxes will cost a minimum of $2,000 annually per home.
Former Village Mayor Bill Biondi weighed in on his thoughts: “I’m a strong believer that a village can do very well by itself. It’s been proven with major hurricanes and snowstorms. We took a village that had nothing. We bought the DPW (Department of Public Works) and Village Hall and that function like a municipality. Unfortunately, Biondi continued, “there have been village-haters from Day 1 who got on by getting elected and overspent and hired more people than I did when I was mayor.” Biondi said that while board members are sometimes at odds, “you have to move forward and represent all the people – not just themselves.”
Nick Busa, who came on the village board in 2013 as trustee and served as Deputy Mayor from 2014-2015, said he “definitely” supports the concept of a village. “We control our own destiny,” Busa continued, “we bought our own DPW building, and helped create village court. If we have a problem, we take care of it.” Busa, who moved into his current home in 1990 prior to Mastic Beach’s incorporation, said he would wait sometimes two or more days to be plowed. “We (village) plowed the roads within a 30-hour period. Now,” Busa said, “there’s a referendum to dissolve the village because some people have their panties in a bunch, and it’s wrong, because there are a lot of very good people who deserve a village.
Meanwhile, a meeting to discuss the concept of dissolution of the village and its impacts is scheduled for October 18 at the William Floyd High School. Residents who attended the Pattersquash Creek Civic Association Meeting on Monday called for their neighbors to attend and stand in support of continuing the village.

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