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Smithtown $5.5M capital projects wish list includes design plans for animal shelter, LED streetlights

Cats spend the afternoon lounging in the cat

Cats spend the afternoon lounging in the cat room at the Town of Smithtown Animal Shelter in Smithtown on May 21, 2015. Credit: Heather Walsh

Smithtown officials are reviewing $5.5 million in capital projects this year that could include a new animal shelter design, LED-equipped streetlights and equipment for the recycling center.

Smithtown Comptroller Donald Musgnug at a May 18 town board meeting offered recommendations and emphasized the benefit of bonding millions to get low interest rates, and using new technology to reduce future utility and repair costs. He cited the town's aggressive debt repayment and conservative past spending.

The plan also projected another $10.3 million in dozens of capital projects through 2019 for future boards to consider. Among them: Removing and replacing an existing bulkhead, floating docks and utilities at Long Beach Marina, at a cost of about $3.5 million; and purchasing a fleet of 13 highway trucks for about $2 million.

"The town's debt service and debt is precipitously dropping, even with the new borrowings I am encouraging you to do," Musgnug said.

"You should be commended for putting the town into a position where it can borrow significant sums of money and still have declining debt service payments," he said, adding that the town had "the lowest amount of absolute debt and debt per capita of any of the five major towns in Suffolk County," according to reports from the town's bond adviser.

Councilwoman Lynne C. Nowick said she supports a project that would install more than 7,200 streetlight fixtures with LED lights for nearly $3.1 million, because it essentially pays for itself.

Musgnug said the fixtures are expected to reduce utility costs and repairs by about $350,000 annually -- offsetting the anticipated $279,000 annual borrowing cost.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said rehabbing the Long Beach Marina and town animal shelter are among his top priorities. Vecchio and Councilman Thomas McCarthy also suggested combining bonding for 2015 and 2016 projects, totaling about $8.6 million.

"By the time they get the paperwork, it won't be until fourth quarter of 2015 anyway," McCarthy said.

The councilman said he also wanted to bond for items in 2017, such as installing accessible bathrooms at the Kings Park Bluff and water sprinkler parks in Kings Park and Smithtown hamlets; and to adequately plan for purchasing large equipment with long lead times.

Councilman Robert Creighton said all of the projects are needed. "I'd like to see more spending for the municipal parking lots," he said.

Musgnug stressed that the recommendations are still a work in progress and that he planned to meet with a bond adviser to discuss financing options, include suggestions by the board and submit final recommendations at a future meeting.

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