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Smithtown comptroller to retire after steering through pandemic

Donald Musgnug served as Smithtown town comptroller for

Donald Musgnug served as Smithtown town comptroller for six years. Credit: Courtesy of Fuoco Group, LLP

Smithtown comptroller Donald Musgnug, who helped balance the town’s $107.6 million budget while steering financing for complicated public works projects during the pandemic, will retire at the end of the month, he said.

Musgnug, 68, of Huntington, said in a phone interview he’d decided to retire "while I’m in good health and my wife is in good health, to take the opportunity to enjoy our future."

One retirement benefit is a chance to visit a 7-month-old granddaughter in Virginia he and his wife, Marla, have been unable to meet because of COVID-19.

He will be replaced by Paul Rubano, his budget director.

Smithtown Supervisor Edward Wehrheim said Musgnug, hired six years ago by former Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, had been "instrumental on the finance end of a lot of major projects." The town’s stable finances are "in large part due to the hard work of Musgnug and his staff."

Two of the last projects Musgnug worked on, rebuilds of Flynn Memorial Park and Lake Avenue, are nearly complete. The town board approved parking lot paving and new playground equipment at Flynn at its April 6 meeting, and recently rebuilt Lake Avenue in St. James is scheduled to be paved later this month.

Both were complicated projects involving multiple town departments and multimillion dollar budgets. Flynn, the town’s marquee softball center, was projected to be a $4.2 million project but finished at roughly $7 million, more than the town typically spends on all park renovations in a year. Musgnug managed financing and a flurry of contract amendments as bids came in higher than expected and town leadership modified the project to include more amenities and high-quality materials. A grand opening is scheduled for later this month.

As the pandemic took hold last year, Musgnug projected a dire impact on dozens of revenue and spending lines, then presented options to town board members who cut discretionary and overtime spending, delayed hiring and offered early retirement to some senior, high-earning town employees.

Those actions, along with the fees from a Long Island real estate mini-boom, helped mitigate the financial hit, and Moody’s Investors Service last month assigned an Aaa rating, its highest, to the town’s debt.

Musgnug served one term as a Huntington town councilman in the 1990s, but spent much of his professional life as an accountant advising clients in private practice. That role carried over to his job in Smithtown, he said, where part of his job was advising the town board. "Their job was to make decisions. My role was to provide them with the information to make the best decision," he said.

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