File photo village hall
Liquidation of MB village assets begins
Bidding on government assets has begun in Mastic Beach, as the village prepares to formally dissolve back into Brookhaven Town.
The liquidation of assets, including village buildings and equipment, is being conducted online with sales overseen by Auctions International, a Buffalo-based company. A spokesperson for the company said the auctions are ongoing and will continue through next week or until all items have been sold.
The sales are another step in closing the books on the short-lived village, which has already begun to transfer some responsibilities back to Brookhaven Town, two months early.
In an interview earlier this week, village mayor Robert Miller said that he signed two agreements that would allow the town to take over building inspections, zoning and code enforcement two months ahead of schedule. Miller explained that the village has been unable to complete these operations due to staff shortages. “[Supervisor Ed Romaine] and Councilman Dan Panico were very kind to the village by accepting back the building department at no cost to the residents,” Miller said in a phone interview. He added that it wouldn’t be fair to residents paying fees to the village and then again to Brookhaven Town in two months. “We’ve been frugal on spending all year, but I paved roads, cleaned up sidewalks and trimmed trees with money we did have in the budget,” he said.
Miller and his board hope that the auctions will generate enough funds to pay off village debt — approximately $760,000 — before the village disbands on Dec. 31. As a term of dissolution, village residents are responsible for all existing debt, including village hall, payment of employee benefits and litigation settlements.
Since incorporating in 2010, the village has been plagued with financial issues, notably, overspending on a road-paving project that cost $400,000. Initiatives to gain revenue, such as franchise fees and aggressive code enforcement, did not meet expectations, plunging the village into a worsened financial state. In 2016, as petitions to disband spread, Moody’s downgraded the village six levels to non-investment grade, citing financial instability and operating at a deficit for three straight years. As a result, village employees were laid off and services began to decline.
Miller said that the residual debt and tax imposed on residents after dissolving would depend on the success of the auction.
On Monday evening, Miller estimated that the auction had already raised $380,000. “We made a joke at the board meeting that we’re auctioning off toilet bowls,” Miller said, adding that trucks, automobiles, heavy equipment, landscaping tools, mowers, office equipment and all village-owned real estate are among the items up for auction.
By Tuesday morning, the highest bid for village hall was $95,200. The building was originally purchased from Brookhaven Town with a bond for $850,000. Bidding on the 28,629-square-foot lot closes on Nov. 8.
RJ Klisiewicz, operations manager of Auctions International, said in a press release that the company’s “goal through this dissolution is to help the village get the best returns. This is a great opportunity for community residents to bid and purchase village assets, some of which may hold sentimental value, such as the park benches and flag pole.”
One of those sentimental items included a gazebo on Neighborhood Road that sold for $1,525. The sale caused some turmoil among residents, many of whom voiced their hopes to see it remain in the community. Brookhaven councilman Dan Panico wrote in a Facebook post in September that he asked the mayor not to auction off the gazebo and benches and instead leave them to be used elsewhere in the community. Panico then said that the village board later passed a resolution to sell them all. “The mayor informed me that the auction would be pulled, however, it turns out that such action could not be done unilaterally,” Panico said in an email last week. “While it was disappointing, we will work to see if we can establish a new civic space in downtown Mastic Beach as we work toward the overall redevelopment of the area.”
Miller declined to say who purchased the gazebo, but noted that it “went to a good home.” The fence, flagpole and World Trade Center Memorial were donated to the American Legion, he said.
“All the money from the auction will go to our debt; it’s in a separate account,” he said. “When I see that number hit $700,000 or $800,000, I’ll be happy.”
A spokesperson for Auctions International said that bidding would close on Nov. 8. For more information and to view and bid on items, visit auctionsinternational.com.
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