Mastic Beach Residents to Decide Fate of Village Today, November 16th

961_8937• Story by Barbara LaMonica

Residents in the Village of Mastic Beach are being asked to read the wording on the ballot carefully as they vote to consider the fate of their village when they held to the polls today, November 16. Voting will be at the Mastic Beach Fire House from noon until 9:00 p.m. A ‘no’ vote will be to stay the village. A ‘yes’ vote will be to dissolve the village. In either case, taxes will increase, but exactly how much they will rise remains a question. “Voters should read the question with comprehension,” Mayor Maura Spery said in an interview earlier this week. “The wording is confusing, but it is New York State law.”
The pros and cons of whether the village should stay or go, depends on who is answering the question. “I think a village can be a very effecting form of government,” Mayor Spery said, “but,” she cautions, “it costs a lot more money.” According to Spery, certain levels of services have not been being provided to residents within the incorporated village. “A village is required to maintain certain services to a certain level, and we have not been doing it,” Spery added. “This can be great, but there are consequences. It costs money to have resources to get rid of slumlords.”
In contrast, Former Village Mayor Bill Biondi stated: “With the right people, we are at our best. We survived hurricanes, snow storms, nor’easters, flooding, and this village made out better than if it had been under town control. You all have to work for the common cause of residents.” But, Biondi counters, taxes won’t increase 800 percent. “One way or another, taxes will go up. Residents are not going to mind a tax increase to get services but we don’t have to go as high as 800 percent, but Maura (Spery) wants new roads,” Biondi said. “I say we should keep the village and not go back to the Town of Brookhaven. When I was mayor, people had a place to go to – they didn’t have to go to the Hill (Brookhaven Town Hall). This village could succeed if we all work together,” Biondi underscored.
Betty Manzella, who supports the concept of the village and its associated local control, was appointed by Spery as vice-chair of the village’s exploration committee in 2015 where attempts were made to bridge the gap between groups and worked to find solutions to the municipality’s fiscal challenges. “We received a lot of misinformation,” Manzella said of the tax neutrality data residents were told by town officials. Fast-forward to 2017, and Manzella states: “The tax picture is such that in order to be realistic, you have to pay for services. A highway department is a huge financial burden. What went wrong from the beginning is that we (Mastic Beach) didn’t enter into an Inter-municipal Agreement with the Town of Brookhaven. We have many successful villages within Brookhaven and Suffolk County, but,” Manzella emphasized, “there are costs associated with that.”
Biondi is encouraging residents to support the village: “The best interest in this community is to vote no to keep the village,” he said. Spery, meanwhile, is not projecting the end result of the election but stated: “It’ll be very close.” Commenting on anticipated voter turnout, Spery could not say with certainty but said, “Normally we get between 1,100 and 1,300, but in 2010 over 3,000 people came out to vote.”

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