The Smithtown Town Board voted unanimously to purchase two properties...

The Smithtown Town Board voted unanimously to purchase two properties for $240,000 that can be used for transfer of density flow rights. (Feb. 20, 2012) Credit: Erin Geismar

The proposed $104.6 million Smithtown Town budget for 2015 was adopted by default after the town board failed to reach a majority vote.

Homeowners will see increased taxes because of amendments to the budget.

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and Councilwoman Lynne C. Nowick voted for the budget at last Thursday's board meeting, while Councilmen Robert Creighton and Edward Wehrheim voted against it. Councilman Thomas McCarthy abstained on the budget vote.

Board members also split in a 3-2 vote on budget amendments that called for increases in two highway department funds and decreases in the solid waste district budget -- with Creighton and Wehrheim voting against them.

The amendments raised taxes on the average Smithtown home assessed at $5,500 to $1,253.24, which is a $33.70 increase over the 2014 budget. At a public hearing in October, the board presented a proposed tax of $1,231.20 -- $11.66 more than the 2014 budget.

Smithtown Town Attorney Matthew Jakubowski said that state law requires "if they fail to adopt a budget by Nov. 20, the preliminary budget with changes and revisions made by the board becomes the budget for the ensuing year."

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said the amendments came from delaying the relocation of 21 highway department workers to the sanitation division that was supposed to take place on Jan. 1. It will now take place on July 1, 2015, because the garbage trucks and trailers needed were not available.

"Money transferred with the highway employees had to be returned to the highway budget," he said.

Vecchio said the department reorganization was necessary because commercial entities pay the town road tax, which included leaf and brush pickup services that they do not receive, and county auditors told the town to discontinue charging for solid waste pickup in a highway department account.

McCarthy, who will receive a $30,000 increase in the stipend he receives as deputy supervisor through the budget, said he abstained from voting on the budget "because it contained elected and appointed salaries." He said he would not vote for such salaries until codes for them "are clarified and strictly rewritten with the proper procedures."

Creighton said he voted down the budget due to concerns about the depletion of reserved funds. "I think that our bond rating is going to be reduced," he said. "There's about $10.4 million left in the fund balance. At the end of 2013 there was $16.2 million."

Wehrheim said he didn't think the budget process "should be an instrument to make major changes to departments and the way we provide services to the public." He said the town board was not involved in restructuring plans and did not receive requested written assurances from department heads involved indicating that the changes were feasible.

He also cited concerns for about $120,000 in pay increases for town employees -- some of which he said were given on top of contractual union raises. "They'll actually be receiving three pay increases between January first and July first of 2015," Wehrheim said. "I don't necessarily disagree that some or many of these increases are necessary to operate the town, but I do believe there should have been justification given to this council on pay raises before we voted for them."

Nowick could not be reached for comment.

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