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Smithtown tables talk of setting minimum wage for town workers

The Town of Smithtown is tabling a proposal

The Town of Smithtown is tabling a proposal to establish a minimum wage for town employees. Smithtown Councilman Robert Creighton is seen here in a July 2013 file photo. Photo Credit: James Carbone

A proposal to establish a minimum wage for Town of Smithtown employees has been tabled.

Councilman Robert Creighton, at the Aug. 11 town board meeting, introduced the measure to set the minimum wage at $9 per hour, effective April 1, 2016. Councilman Edward Wehrheim seconded the plan, but Councilwoman Lynne C. Nowick moved to table the proposal, which the five-member board unanimously voted to do.

Nowick did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

Creighton said Friday that he asked Town Comptroller Donald Musgnug to analyze the measure's financial impact and was told it would cost about $23,000 each year.

As a municipality, the town is technically exempt from paying minimum wage, said Creighton, adding that complaints from residents spurred the proposal.

Town board resolutions show some seasonal workers were hired this past summer for as little as $8 per hour, while others were paid more than $15 per hour.

"We're paying the deputy supervisor [Councilman Thomas McCarthy] an additional $30,000, and we are giving $5,000 and $10,000 raises to department heads," said Creighton. "If we can do that, we can pay $23,000 for about 150 young people."

McCarthy declined to comment on Creighton's statement. He said the proposal should be discussed during the 2016 budget preparation, which will be a tough one with the town's 0.73 percent tax cap and "without getting relief from the state on your pension costs or medical expenses, so those automatically push you over the cap."

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said in an interview that Creighton was playing politics.

"There's nothing that Mr. Creighton does that doesn't have a political connotation," said Vecchio. "He's pandering to people, saying, 'I'm raising your kids' salaries.' "

Creighton responded, "I do not want to dignify that ridiculous comment."

Vecchio said different jobs pay different rates. "These jobs are the most sought after by the community when summertime comes. The amount of money made is immaterial for most families," he said. "They want to know that their children are off the streets, engaged in a worthwhile activity for the town and being paid for it."

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