Smithtown plans additional tax hike, with $200,000 in raises

This handout photo shows Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick

This handout photo shows Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio. (Credit: Handout)

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Already facing an average $47 town tax hike next year, Smithtown residents could see the increase rise another $3.

Town officials plan to add $200,000 for raises and other new expenses to next year's $103 million budget. The additional spending would not cause the town to exceed its tax cap.

Most of the raises will go to seasonal public safety workers and employees of the town clerk's office, Town Councilman Edward Wehrheim said. Public safety employees hired to work part-time in the summer would receive raises of $1.20 an hour, he said.

"They haven't had an increase in their salary in five years," Wehrheim said, adding that low wages make it difficult to attract potential employees.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, who said he would support the pay increases, said the town board might approve the budget at its Nov. 6 meeting.

The tentative budget would hike spending by 2.4 percent. No programs would be cut, and staffing would not be curtailed.

When the budget was unveiled in September, Vecchio said taxes on the average home assessed at $5,500 rise by $46.83.

Three people spoke Thursday at a public hearing on the budget.

Ernie Krauss, 83, of Smithtown, questioned the decision to hire two public safety investigators to beef up monitoring of the town's solid waste program. The positions would cost $225,000.

Vecchio has said more investigators are needed after Suffolk authorities charged employees of two private trash haulers with stealing more than $200,000 worth of recyclable paper from the town. They are awaiting trial.

Krauss said the new hires would be a waste of money. "I think if you looked more carefully, you could find a few more things that could save a few more dollars," he said.

Democratic State Assembly candidate Jesse Safer said the proposed tax increase is "excessive."

"We have to look at other means of meeting the revenue needs of the Town of Smithtown," said Safer, 59, of Commack, who is trying to unseat Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James).

With Lauren R. Harrison

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