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Stipend increase, job transfers in 2015 Smithtown budget raise eyebrows

Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, photographed on Feb.

Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, photographed on Feb. 10, 2014, said deputy supervisors make "well in excess of $100,000" in other towns and cited the increase as justifiable because "there are a lot more duties being heaped upon local government." Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Smithtown town residents have raised concerns about the renewed effort to grant a $30,000 stipend increase to the deputy supervisor and reorganizing highway department staff as part of the town's proposed $104.6 million budget plan.

Residents said at a recent public hearing that they disagreed with increasing Councilman Thomas McCarthy's stipend from $5,000 to $35,000 in his role as deputy supervisor. The raise was rescinded last month via a town board resolution after a public outcry.

Randy Shaw, 60, of Kings Park, said the increase prompted "a lot of resentment" when McCarthy cast the deciding vote last month for his own stipend raise.

"Now you put it into the budget and there are a lot of people appalled at that," he said at Thursday night's meeting.

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said deputy supervisors make "well in excess of $100,000" in other towns and cited the increase as justifiable because "there are a lot more duties being heaped upon local government."

Vecchio said McCarthy will have additional work in a new role as liaison to the Hauppauge Industrial Association-Long Island, a business advocacy group.

Shaw said in an interview that "if the work is getting too much for Mr. Vecchio, maybe he shouldn't have run."

Gary Schnirman, 68, of Kings Park, questioned whether McCarthy worked full time.

"If it's only a part-time position, then I don't understand why there should be an additional stipend," he said.

Vecchio said government positions don't have full- or part-time distinctions, citing the office of the U.S. president. "He's [the president] out of office six months of the year campaigning. You don't say it's a part-time position," Vecchio said. "All of us work whenever is necessary."

There were also questions about the transfer of 21 highway workers to the sanitation department. Bob Keenan, who said he has worked for the town highway department for 28 years, urged the board to reconsider the decision, citing how hard those employees work during inclement weather.

"I got about 10 guys right now that just had their first child, just bought their first home," he said. "How do you think these guys feel?"

Vecchio said town officials must vote on the final budget by Nov. 20, otherwise the preliminary budget becomes the final budget, which happened in 2011.

Vecchio said he thought there would be budget amendments, "which should not greatly affect the tax levies either way." He declined to discuss potential changes.

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