Bellport budget passes: Terms of Office extended to four years


The $6.37 million budget was passed by the Bellport Board of Trustees and mayor on Tuesday night. So did the resolution for terms of office from two years to four years.

Trustee Steve Mackin, at the end of several two-year terms, abstained from that vote.

Nathan Rohrmeier was not present.

A public hearing was announced for May 13 at 6 p.m. for a proposal to change term limits: Neither the mayor nor any board member would serve an excess of three consecutive four-year terms in office or a total of 12 consecutive years.

About 13 residents attended the meeting, mostly to comment about the terms of office and term limits, but during public comment, Johnny Knapp, who was a village lifeguard, asked to return those jobs to village residents. Lifeguards are now being supplied by Brookhaven Town.  “Getting lifeguards from Brookhaven is a bad idea,” he said, pointing out its value to young people who live in the village for jobs. “A big plus is knowing the people, who’s good in the water, who’s not.”

Mayor Maureen Veitch commented at the onset that setting the meeting on Passover was an oversight—meetings were set in July. “It won’t happen again,” she said.

Veitch launched into the budget process: six meetings, 16 hours of public meetings. “Feedback from the public was overwhelmingly positive,” she said, citing village treasurer Darcia Palmer Akhimien’s careful work in explaining items.

For those who couldn’t attend the board meetings, Akhimien and the Budget Advisory Committee will set a Saturday meeting to explain the budget, to be announced.

Thomas Schultz asked if there was a chance to sit with someone to obtain clarification. Veitch replied that one-on-one meetings would be onerous.

The budget passed with Veitch and trustees Kuehn, Mackin and Young voting yes.

Comments from residents regarding terms of office:

“I can’t understand why this resolution is being made when there’s nothing wrong with the two-year term. Why try to fix it if it isn’t broke?” Sherry Binnington, who served as a trustee, asked.

“I don’t feel strongly about extending the terms,” said Roger Thomas. “It’s important to have a constant ability to renew the board.”

Trustee Michael Young weighed in: “My thinking has evolved, and the consensus we’re hearing on two years versus four is in favor of four. One of the voices we heard is from Judge Roe,” he said. “He seems to feel four years is fine.”

Roger Thomas countered, “This is a very small village and it’s hard to turn out a mayor or trustee without a nasty fight. I think we should have a term limit (for a total) of eight years.”

Schultz asked Veitch to share her reasons. Veitch replied she’s done it four times.

Judge Pete Roe spoke: “It seems to be, it takes a while to understand a job as a public official,” he said, mentioning projects, getting grants, etc.

“Four years helps the public,” he said. He pointed out that many residents are not full-time and don’t have an interest in running for office. “So, it seems extending the terms beyond now would be important… We have a hard time getting people to run for trustee. We can’t even get anyone to run for village judge.”

Schultz, who mentioned that a number of Bellport residents have commented about the term extension, emphasized, “We the people would like to make that decision.” It could be challenged via permissive referendum, but would entail collecting many signatures.

Projects in the pipeline

The HUD $2.8 million grant from the fiscal 2022 budget is underway. The first requirement is an environmental review; once that’s done, the village can proceed.

Regarding the FEMA grant, for the second part of the three reimbursements for Superstorm Sandy, a conversation was held with state officials pushing for the $710,000 amount. Veitch was confident once that was secured, the third reimbursement can be submitted.

GEI/Howell’s Creek Resiliency Project, the village received a $3.3 million grant, thanks to Sen. Chuck Schumer and congressman Andrew Garbarino, waiting for formal confirmation.

Brown’s Lane, Shore Road will open early May.

Waiting for LIPA and PSEG, who installed solar panels at Ho-Hum Beach to fund replacements.

Gutters were put in at Village Hall.

A records retention grant was submitted two weeks ago for cybersecurity and the digitization of records to senators Schumer and Gillibrand.

Village Hall will be reshingled.

Steve Mackin commented Kids Camp is open for residents, soon for non-residents. He met with Legis. Dominick Thorne about the South Howell’s Road crosswalk. “It’s agreed the intersection needs enhancement,” he said. A work order is in.

South Country Road east will see a big improvement with sidewalks and crosswalks.

The radar sign on South Country Road is collecting data recording key times of speeding; this would alert Suffolk police of times they need to patrol for ticketing speeding drivers.

Arbor Day at Kreamer Elementary was a hit, said trustee Lorraine Kuehn,  planting a river birch with the Bellport Garden Club and students receiving wildflower seeds. Zumba classes are really rocking.


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