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Smithtown budget plan calls for $3.5M in cuts, tax hike, no layoffs

Smithtown Town Hall is seen in an undated

Smithtown Town Hall is seen in an undated photo. Credit: Erin Geismar

Smithtown's tentative 2016 operating budget cuts spending by about $3.5 million, calls for a modest tax increase and includes no layoffs.

The proposed $101 million budget would decrease spending by 3.4 percent over the current year's budget. The average Smithtown home assessed at $5,500 would pay about $1,271.25 in annual taxes, an increase of $18.01.

The town's tax levy for 2016 is planned at $55.49 million, slightly above this year's levy of $55.04 million, town officials said last week.

The town could have appropriated another $500,000 and still stayed within the state's mandated tax cap, but Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said he didn't see the need.

"We can't tolerate extra expenditures when they're unnecessary," Vecchio said. "We're not going to waste taxpayer money."

He said the town spent $1.08 million less from the general fund, its largest, due to job vacancies and curtailing expenses in several departments.

The town also plans to continue a policy started this year of filling only those jobs viewed as essential when employees leave or retire, Vecchio said. "We're doing a little bit more with less people," he said. "It's more efficient."

The town was also able to save money due to the allocations of projects and major equipment purchases in the 2015-19 capital budget plan. For example, the town anticipates saving $200,000 in utility costs with the installation of LED streetlights, Vecchio said.

In addition, about $900,000 in health insurance and workers' compensation increases were mitigated by a decrease in required state pension contributions, the supervisor said.

"We were able to meet the tax cap because of the intense scrutiny of the departmental budgets and the supervisor's longtime policy of being fiscally tightfisted," said Comptroller Donald Musgnug.

Musgnug also noted ways in which the town was able to repurpose salary savings into department budgets. The 2016 budget for the town animal shelter is about $689,000, roughly $2,000 less than this year's budget.

The savings of about $35,000 in the animal shelter supervisor's salary was allocated for trap, neuter and release services, adoption advertisements and the hiring of a part-time trainer to socialize eight dogs, he said. The position had been a point of contention for three members of the defunct shelter advisory council, who recently resigned.

The budget plan includes longevity and step increases for about 30 Smithtown Administrative Guild and 375 Civil Service Employees Association union workers, Vecchio said.

Residents can comment on the budget at an Oct. 29 hearing. The final budget must be adopted by Nov. 20.

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