OLD BROOKVILLE BOARD PASSES LAW EXTENDING TERMS OF OFFICE FOR TRUSTEES AND MAYOR
At Monday’s Old Brookville Village Board meeting, the Trustees unanimously voted to extend the terms of office for the positions of Trustee and Mayor from two to four years. In
addition, the law establishes biennial elections in odd-numbered years, a change from the current annual election cycle.
The lengthening of the terms will not affect any current office holder until after an election under the new law takes place. In
order to establish the biennial election cycle, the two Trustees elected in 2014 will serve three year terms, and the Mayor and two Trustees elected in 2015,
will serve four year terms.
According to the language of Local Law 2-2013, the change was proposed because “the Village Board of Trustees finds that the key elective positions within the Village of the Mayor and Trustees would benefit from a longer term of office so as to provide for greater constancy, continuity and efficiency for the Village. These positions require a great amount of experience, skill and knowledge, and therefore, a longer term is needed.”
Monday’s public hearing to discuss the proposal, was sparsely attended, with only seven residents of the Village present. Only two appeared to be there for the hearing on the proposed legislation.
One resident asked, “Why the change? What makes this necessary?”
Trustee Rick Shaper responded, “Running this village and getting good at it takes more than two years.” He added that holding yearly elections not only created extra expenses for the village, but required a considerable amount of time and effort on the part of village officials and employees.
He pointed out that other villages have made this change. He cited Mineola as an example.
Mayor Bernie Ryba added that the law does not affect the term of office of current trustees or the mayor.
Trustee Michael Dergarabedian added that he has been on the board for a number of years, and has learned that, “you need more time when you’re dealing with complex matters. It’s important to have continuity. It’s difficult when you have turn-over and you’re dealing with long term
The resident expressed concern that the change would “possibly take something away from the community – the opportunity to become more involved in the community and its governance.”
Trustee Shaper replied that the job has become more complex since the village government was first chartered – that trustees need to be better versed in state and federal regulations. He cited SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) as an example. “There’s a lot of work to be done.
You need background experience. If you’re going to volunteer – and it’s a part-time job – you need time to learn the ropes.
The resident then noted the poor attendance, and asked how the meeting had been announced. The Board responded that the announcement for the public meeting had been posted on the Village website and in the local paper – the Locust Valley Leader.
The second resident stated that he believed that there should have been an e-mail sent out to the community.
Mr. Ryba stated that in addition to the website and newspaper announcement, the proposal had been discussed with some people in the community informally.
Trustee Ken Casatuta added that neither the Mayor nor Trustees benefitted from the law since there would be an interceding election before the longer terms went into effect.
When the residents were asked by the Board if they opposed the new law, both replied that they didn’t necessarily oppose it, but that they believed that there should be more community discussion.
The first speaker commented, “You are changing something very fundamental about the village operation.”
The second then suggested that the board “get out a letter and let the people decide.”
There was then a brief discussion among the Board and the Village Attorney about whether the public hearing ought to be continued at the next meeting or be closed at that time and the legislation voted on. The Board chose the latter course, citing the opportunity for the community to express its view of the legislation through a permissive referendum. The public hearing
was then closed, and the board passed the proposal unanimously.
The law will take effect in thirty days of its passage, unless in that time a petition is filed requesting voter approval of the measure. The petition for a permissive referendum needs the signatures of 20% of the number of Village residents who were registered to vote in the last