top of page
  • Mamaroneck Observer

Legality Test: Did They Pass?

By Kathy Savolt -

On Friday night, March 3, 2023, the Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting and immediately went into Executive Session to discuss the employment of the Village Manager, Jerry Barberio. After about an hour, the Board came out of Executive Session and announced they had voted to offer Barberio a new four-year contract effective immediately. See the contract HERE.

Since then, there has been much discussion about whether the vote was legal and therefore, whether the contract is legal. Some claim that the New York State Open Meetings Law requires any vote resulting in the appropriation of public funds must be taken in a meeting open to the public.

Mayor Tom Murphy disagrees and claims that if the vote results were announced at a public meeting, the Board followed the law. Murphy is quoted in the March 20th Journal News article as saying “the voting procedures of the Village of Mamaroneck strictly follow the laws of New York State.” The NY Committee on Open Government completely disagrees. See LoHud article HERE.

Robert Spolzino, the Village Attorney, whose firm is paid $165,000/year for his services, said that the vote in Executive Session was legal because the board did not appropriate the money.

The Mamaroneck Observer decided to look more closely at these claims.

HERE’s the New York State Open Meetings Law Section 105.1 (emphasis added):

§105. Conduct of executive sessions.

1. Upon a majority vote of its total membership, taken in an open meeting pursuant to a motion identifying the general area or areas of the subject or subjects to be considered, a public body may conduct an executive session for the below enumerated purposes only, provided, however, that no action by formal vote shall be taken to appropriate public moneys: (a list of exceptions, none of which seem to apply, follows which can be viewed by clicking the above link.)

So, did the Board “appropriate” the funds necessary to execute the contract which was effective immediately upon the vote?

Here’s the definition of “Appropriation” included in NY State law (emphasis added):


Statutory authorization to make expenditures during a specific State fiscal year and to make disbursements for the purposes designated up to the stated amount of the appropriation. Appropriations are authorizations, rather than mandates, to spend.

What do you think? Did the Board violate the Open Meetings Law? Did they appropriate, i.e., spend, public moneys when they voted behind closed doors to increase Barberio’s salary and benefits effective immediately? And, if the money wasn’t “appropriated” does that mean Barberio isn’t getting paid?


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page