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Vecchio's Smithtown budget plan raises taxes

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio during a town board

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio during a town board meeting on Feb. 7, 2012. Credit: Ed Betz

Smithtown will raise taxes and dip into savings to avoid cutting services and trimming payroll next year, town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said.

On Friday, he announced a $103 million proposed budget for 2013 that would hike spending by 2.4 percent and increase the property tax levy almost 3.5 percent.

Taxes would go up $50.29 on the average home assessed at $5,500. Vecchio said he could not estimate the percentage increase. He said he used $8.4 million in funds from the town's surplus to hold down the tax rate.

He blamed most of the town's spending increases on almost $2 million in mandatory costs -- including $1 million more in contributions to the state pension fund and $800,000 more for hospitalization insurance.

No programs would be cut, and staffing would not be curtailed, Vecchio said.

He said mild weather last winter will allow him to carry over unspent funds to next year's budget. Taxes on the snow removal and highway machinery budgets would be reduced by $9.73 per household, he said.

Town Comptroller Louis A. Necroto said the proposed tax levy -- the amount of money the town expects to collect from property taxes -- would increase 3.47 percent to $54,382,422. That is $343,990 less than the maximum allowed under the state's tax cap law, he said.

Vecchio said that is within the state tax cap law because of exclusions allowed under the law, such as growth of the town tax base.

The town board will hold a public hearing on the budget Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at the town senior citizens center, 420 Middle Country Rd.

In 2011, deliberations on the town's $100.6 million budget for 2012 led to a split on the town board. The spending plan, which increased taxes 0.72 percent, was enacted by default when the board failed to vote on the proposed budget by the Nov. 20 deadline.

Vecchio, a Republican, then blamed the board's four council members for not making a motion to pass the package; the councilmen, all Republicans or Conservatives, said they had questions about the budget but did not receive answers from then-Comptroller John Morris. He lost his job in January when the board appointed Necroto.

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