Smithtown has a new planning director after nearly nine months without a department head.

Town board members voted 5-0 May 21 to provisionally appoint David Flynn, the previous assistant town planning director, to the post at a salary of $135,000.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said Flynn still must take the Suffolk County Civil Service exam.

"We hope that he will be high enough on the list to be appointed" permanently, Vecchio said of those who pass the test.

Flynn joined the planning department as a seasonal worker in 1977 and has been the assistant director since 1985. He succeeds former town planning director Frank DeRubeis, who retired in August.

"It's a vote of confidence; I appreciate that," Flynn said in an interview Wednesday. "Now I can get some more work done, where I had been hesitating a little bit . . . if you want to make job assignments and you're not really the department head, do you really have the right to do that? . . . Now that it's happened, hopefully, I can make the department a little bit more efficient."

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Councilman Edward Wehrheim said he supported Flynn's appointment from the beginning.

"It was too long of a time, in my opinion, to have no director in that planning department," Wehrheim said. "It's one of the vital departments for land use. I think he's going to do a good job."

Flynn's appointment was held up during collective bargaining negotiations with the Smithtown Administrators Guild -- a union of about 30 department heads and administrators, of which Flynn is a member, Wehrheim said.

Vecchio said he wanted to reduce the salary for planning director, which had been set at $153,738 in the 2015 adopted budget, among other job titles. But union officials thought it was an improper labor practice to reduce the salary of one position while an entire contract was being negotiated, Flynn said.