By Sara Ging
Smithtown released a $103.2 million budget at a town board meeting Oct. 4, which stays within the 0.68 percent tax levy cap, includes no layoffs and is an overall increase of about $2 million from last year’s budget.
Supervisor Patrick Vecchio (R) proposed the use of surplus funds to establish two capital reserves: $2 million in open space preservation, and $2 million to establish a sewer fund.
“Both of those will go a long way to improve Smithtown’s quality of life,” Vecchio said at the meeting.
The reserve for open space preservation would provide funds for the purchase of sensitive land or land that can be sanitized. The supervisor said there is a need for more open space in the town, and this reserve helps keep money aside when space becomes available. There are no specifics for the sewer system yet, which Vecchio called a “rainy day fund,” also saying that if the money is not used, it will be absorbed in next year’s budget.
Unlike the nearby Town of Huntington, Smithtown’s proposed budget would not pierce the state property tax cap — residents would actually experience a small tax reduction under this plan as compared to last year. According to the town, the budget increase between 2016 and 2017 is partially offset by an increase in last year’s revenue from mortgage taxes, both from new home sales and from refinancing.
The funding of most departments is “status quo,” according to Vecchio. Policies to lower maintenance and energy costs, such as the use of LED lighting, are also credited with financial savings in the past year.
The highway department received $5.5 million in paving funds, which allow for the paving of 30 miles of roads in 2017. In addition, $750,000 is included for sidewalks.
Proposed salaries for town board members include about $111,000 for the supervisor, and almost $66,000 for each of the four town council members.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Eugene A. Cannataro Senior Citizen Center on Middle Country Road in Smithtown.
Additional reporting by Victoria Espinoza