Sandy forces delay in Smithtown budget hearing

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Tuesday's scheduled Smithtown Town board meeting has been postponed to Nov. 20 because of superstorm Sandy.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said he called off the meeting because residents may not be able to attend due to storm-related power outages. Nearly 15,000 Long Island Power Authority customers in Smithtown remained without power early Monday afternoon.

Communities such as the Village of Nissequogue on Smithtown's Long Island Sound shoreline suffered extensive damage in the storm.

"Most resolutions affect the public, so the meeting should be available to the public," Vecchio said. " . . . People don't have gas in their automobiles, so they can't come to the meeting."

The board is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. on Nov. 20 at Smithtown Town Hall, 99 W. Main St. That day is the deadline for towns to pass their 2013 budgets; the board had planned to vote Tuesday on its proposed $103 million budget. The tentative budget would hike spending by 2.4 percent and raise the average homeowner's tax payment by about $50. No programs would be cut nor staffing curtailed.

If the budget is not approved by Nov. 20, the supervisor's tentative budget would be enacted by default.

Vecchio lauded town highway and parks department workers, who he said had worked daily 15-hour shifts to collect brush and other debris. He said "a couple hundred thousand" dollars has been transferred to pay for fuel and equipment rentals related to storm cleanup, and he expects the cost to rise.

"This will cost $2 million," Vecchio said, adding he hopes the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimburses most of the spending. Last year, FEMA reimbursed Smithtown for $1.2 million in expenses related to Tropical Storm Irene.

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