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Smithtown and Brookhaven budgets propose no tax hikes or layoffs

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward Romaine talks about the

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward Romaine talks about the proposed 2014 budget during a meeting at town hall in Farmingville, NY. (Oct. 1, 2013) Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Smithtown and Brookhaven officials unveiled tentative 2014 budgets Tuesday that both increase spending but do not raise taxes or lay off workers.

Smithtown's proposed $104.4 million budget plan would increase spending by 0.71 percent over the current year's $103.6 million budget, while Brookhaven's $252.4 million budget plan would increase spending by 1.9 percent over this year's $247.6 million budget.

The average Smithtown home assessed at $5,500 would pay about $1,219.54 -- $13.12 less in overall taxes this year, while the average Brookhaven home assessed at $2,750 would pay $997.28 -- 2 cents less than this year.

"There is a decrease in taxes to the average homeowner," said Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio. "Given the state of the economy, I think that is a remarkable achievement."

Smithtown's and Brookhaven's tax levies are planned at $2.36 million and $2.17 million, respectively, below the 1.66 percent maximum allowed under the state tax cap. Smithtown Comptroller Louis A. Necroto said use of funds left over from this year, as well as omitting funds to purchase land accounted for the figure, while Brookhaven officials attributed it to anticipated increased revenue from building and planning department application fees, and reduced staffing through attrition.

Smithtown also plans to save money from about five jobs eliminated through attrition, as well as a roughly $700,000 balance remaining from an estimated increase in hospitalization funds this year and about a $300,000 increase in mortgage taxes, Vecchio said.

Brookhaven, which cut about 140 jobs to avoid a tax hike this year, plans to hire additional building department staff next year and increase overtime pay for town attorneys, officials said.

"The proposed budget continues to move the town's budgeting practices toward long-term structural balance," said Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine in a statement. "Together we must continue to find new sustainable sources of revenue without further burdening our taxpayers, we must continue to reduce spending, and we must collectively work towards ending the reliance on surplus to balance the budget."

Both Brookhaven and Smithtown's budget proposals include contractual raises for unionized white-collar and blue-collar workers, but no pay increases for elected officials.

Brookhaven's proposed $78.2 million capital budget includes $10 million for open space acquisitions, including $6 million for purchases within the Carmans River watershed area.

Smithtown is considering a $12.9 million capital budget, including $1 million in improvements to the Montclair Yard in St. James for the landfill and debris storage site to comply with state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations.

Smithtown's new contracts for collection and disposal of garbage yielded the $1 million, which will allow residents to dispose of demolition debris at the facility, hopefully, by the end of 2014, Vecchio said.

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