A public meeting on Smithtown's proposed 2014 budget took a political turn when a representative for Long Island contractors said the town spends the least amount of money on roads compared with other towns.
"You are at the bottom of the bottom . . . Of all the townships, the investments in our highways in this town average out about $25 per resident," Marc Herbst, executive of the Long Island Contractors' Association Inc., told town board members at Thursday's meeting, citing figures from 2008 to 2012.
To accentuate his point, Herbst brought a wheelbarrow containing shards of broken asphalt. "We'd rather not bring the road to you," he said, "but have you build roads that bring Smithtown to the future."
After the meeting, Supervisor Patrick R. Vecchio and Herbst verbally sparred before news cameras in the hallway at the town's senior center. Vecchio said his calculations show that $220 per average house is invested in roads, curbs and sidewalks.
"You want contractors to make money, so you beat up on the town," he said, accusing Herbst of playing politics in the middle of a campaign before the Nov. 5 general election, while Herbst said Vecchio "should be a shill for the residents that you protect."
Councilman Robert Creighton and lawyer Steve Snair, who are facing Vecchio in the race for town supervisor, said they agreed with Herbst on investing in roads.
The only resident who spoke about the budget was Democratic town council candidate Richard Macellaro, who talked about the importance of having open budget preparation meetings so community members can participate in its formation.
Smithtown's proposed $104.4 million budget for 2014 would increase spending by 0.71 percent over this year's budget, though the average home would pay $13.12 less in overall taxes compared to this year.
The town board must vote to adopt the budget by Nov. 20, town officials said.