Smithtown appoints new attorney, comptroller
The simmering feud between Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and the town council reached a low boil Tuesday when the town board appointed a new town attorney and comptroller.
After sparring with Vecchio last year over the town budget, councilmen let comptroller John Morris' two-year term expire Dec. 31 without rehiring him. Vecchio defended Morris last fall against accusations from councilmen that he had ignored their questions during preparation of the town's 2012 budget.
Morris, 53, who began working for Smithtown in mid-2010, "didn't work out to our satisfaction," Councilman Robert Creighton said in an interview. He said the budget flap was "a real problem for us."
Morris could not be reached for comment.
Vecchio voted with the rest of the board for Morris' replacement, Louis Necroto, 43, of Nesconset, a former New York City detective. Vecchio said councilmen told him last month they wanted Morris replaced.
"I can understand that, if they had bad experiences, that they'd want a change," he said.
Vecchio dissented when the board voted 3-1 to return former town attorney John Zollo to his old post. Zollo, 52, who had been town attorney for a decade before resigning in 2002, succeeds Yvonne Lieffrig, who retired last month. Vecchio said he voted against Zollo because the appointment called for a $125,000 annual salary, a 10.7 percent boost over the salary budgeted for the position. Vecchio also opposed a 34 percent raise given to an assistant town attorney promoted to deputy town attorney.
The raises were "unconscionable, given the state of the economy and given the diminishing revenue that the town is receiving," Vecchio said, adding that Zollo had been "less than stellar" during his previous stint in the job, serving under Vecchio.
Creighton, who supported Zollo, said the attorney's salary is fair. "He's a very seasoned attorney," Creighton said.
Zollo said he requested the raise "because I know what I'm worth, and I have a family to provide for. . . . I think it's fair to me and fair to the town." Zollo said he is "not concerned about" Vecchio's vote. He plans to keep his private law practice, but will not accept work involving the town.
Councilman Thomas McCarthy said he abstained because he favored promoting an assistant or deputy town attorney.