Intro to Our Village Government
By Sharon Torres -
The Village of Mamaroneck was incorporated in 1895 with a population of only 1,500 people. At the time it was mainly a farming village. Over time, the areas of Orienta, Greenhaven, and Shore Acres served as summer communities for wealthy families from New York City. As of 2021, the population had grown to over 19,000 people, most of whom are full-time residents.
The structure within the Village of Mamaroneck is considered a Council/Manager form of government which differs from the structure of larger municipalities. According to the International City/County Management Association, this structure combines the “strong political leadership of elected officials with the strong managerial experience of an appointed city manager.”This form of government was born out of the progressive reform movement at the turn of the 20th century. It was created to “combat corruption and unethical activity within local government by promoting nonpolitical management that is effective, transparent, responsive and accountable.” The Council/Manager form of government requires a village manager who is dedicated to providing services to the residents and a board of trustees that focuses on creating a vision for the community.
How it works
In a successful Council/Manager structure, the five elected officials (a mayor and 4 Trustees) comprise the Board of Trustees who have the authority to set policy, hire and oversee the Village Manager and adopt a budget. In a Village of this size, the elected officials are considered part-time employees who use their time to legislate and set policy. The Village Manager is a full-time employee overseeing village employees and other aspects of the Village.
The current salary of the Village Manager, Jerry Barberio, is $235,200 annually. Barberio has also accepted the unusual opportunity to work a second job as a manager for a New Jersey municipality during the week. By contrast, the mayor’s salary is $9,505 and the four Trustees are each paid $6,844 annually. In addition, the elected officials have an option to participate in the health insurance plan at no cost to them.
How the Board Works
With the Mayor acting as the Chairperson, the Board of Trustees meets the second and fourth Monday at 8 pm in the Courthouse located at 169 Mount Pleasant Avenue. Work Sessions generally begin at 5:15 pm, and while open to the public, the public may not speak. The Regular meetings generally begin at 8 pm. and are also open to the public, and any member of the community may address the board to share their concerns. Speakers are limited to 3-5 minutes, depending on when they speak. For any resident who cannot attend in person, the meeting is televised live and is available on LMC-TV on demand.
Election of the Board members
The Board of Trustees is elected at-large to represent all members of the community. The expectation is that these 5 elected officials, each with equal voting power, will be responsive to the needs of the community and will carry out their duties in the best interests of the community, without any personal agenda.
When this form of government works well, there can be many benefits to a community. All five elected officials have equal votes. This governing body functions as a mini democracy with every major decision requiring a vote, where each member votes independently. The board’s authority is only to act as a body; that is, no one member may act on their own.
Residents may volunteer their time on committees, boards, and commissions to work in the best interests of the community. These volunteers are an integral part of the Council/Manager form of government and tap into residents’ expertise with the hope of better community outcomes.
In addition to the Administrative Body (Village Manager) and the Legislative Body (Board of Trustees), the Village also has a third branch – the Judicial (Courts) Branch which is staffed by 2 part-time judges. Their salaries are $41,030 annually each (plus health insurance if they choose).
As with any democracy, our village government is most successful when the three branches of government operate independently. Residents can and should participate by volunteering for committees, attending meetings, asking questions, and holding their elected officials accountable.