Smithtown’s 2015 Town Budget did not pass. The budget failed to receive the necessary three votes to become the official 2015 Town Budget. Supervisor Vecchio and Councilwoman Nowick voted in support of the budget, Councilman/Deputy Supervisor McCarthy abstained (a $30,000 increase in the Deputy Supervisor’s stipend, the position McCarthy holds, was included in the budget) Councilmen Wehrheim and Creighton voted NO. Prior to voting on the 2015 budget, there was a vote on a resolution amending the proposed budget which passed in a three - two decision with Vecchio, McCarthy, Nowick voting YES and Wehrheim and Creighton voting NO.
According to Supervisor Vecchio the budget amendment became necessary due to the fact that the proposed transfer of Highway Department employees would not occur on January 1 as initially budgeted. Instead the transfers will take place in July of 2015. Therefore predicted savings in the highway budget would not happen. The amendment provides funding for the highway department with current personel staffing. Also included in the amendment were salary increases for certain town employees.
To understand what happens in 2015 you need to understand the budget process.
The function of preparing the town’s budget rests with a town’s Supervisor. After creating a budget the Supervisor presents it to Town Council members and the public. Council members, after examining the budget, may offer amendments/changes to the budget and the changes may or may not be incorporated in to the budget. Town Board members then vote to schedule a public hearing on what is now called the Tentative Budget. The public is invited to comment on the budget. At this point changes may be made to the budget but generally are not significant changes. A resolution for the town board to accept the budget is placed on the Town Board agenda to be voted on. The vote is largely symbolic since NYS Law mandates that the Town has a budget. Failure to approve the budget means that it becomes the budget without the support of the Town Board.
So how did it happen that this all Republican Board did not support the Supervisor’s Budget? It pretty much boils down to communication or a lack of it. Since the campaign of 2013 there has been very little communication between the Supervisor and Coucilmen Creighton and Wehrheim. It was a messy election followed by Oathgate, followed by the $30,000 increase in the Deputy Supervisor’s stipend for 2014, and now a budget that according to Councilman Wehrheim “is more than a budget, it is the restructuring of Town departments and the way services are provided to the residents of Smithtown without any discussion or input from Council members.”
Wehrheim has concerns about the Supervisor’s plan to transfer Highway Department employees from their department to the Municipal Services Facility (MSF). “I am concerned about snow removal and the impact the proposed changes in leaf and brush pick-ups are going to have on the residents. I asked Superintendent of Highways Glenn Jorgensen if he had concerns about the proposal and he indicated that yes he did.” Councilman Wehrheim provided a copy of a memo on which all members of the Town Council signed their names seeking written assurances from Director of Environment and Waterways Russ Barnett, Supervisor of Municipal Services Facility Matthew Gorecki and Superintendent of Highways Glenn Jorgensen that they would work together for a smooth transition. According to Councilman Wehrheim not one of the named department heads has responded.
In addition to the structural changes, Wehrheim is not happy with the unannounced salary increases given to select employees which were part of the adopted amendments to the Proposed Budget Thursday evening. “I am not making a judgement call on whether or not they are warranted. I do believe they should have been part of the original budget and there should have been a discussion about it. Why give salary increases to people when they will be receiving two scheduled increases in January and July of next year?” Wehrheim supplied a copy of notification about the amendments received from Town Comptroller Louis Necroto. “This is the only notification, no discussion, no other information was provided.”
So how much how much have the salaries been increased and what was the justification for the increase? Councilman Wehrheim didn’t know. Presumably Councilwoman Nowick and Councilman Mc Carthy know as they both supported the budget amendment.
Without support from the Town Council Smithtown has a 2015 Budget.
*Town Comptroller Louis Necroto was not available at the time this article was written.
Town Supervisors Patrick Vecchio and Edward Romaine met at Smithtown Town Hall on Monday to sign an agreement about recyclables. The agreement is an apparent win-win for both towns.
Smithtown residents will benefit in several ways. Beginning January 1, 2015 residents will no longer have to separate their paper goods from cans and glass. Smithtown is moving to a single stream system. Pick-ups will still occur on a weekly basis but all recyclables can be combined in a single container. Brookhaven’s facility collects almost all types of recyclables, whereas Smithtown’s collection was limited to #1 and #2 plastics and limited paper goods. Statistics show that more people recycle with a streamlined process and the amount of material recycled increases when there is a combined collection.
According to Supervisor Vecchio, shipping recyclables to Brookhaven is more cost effective and better for the environment. The town’s recycling equipment is old and in need of an update. The cost of replacing the equipment would run into the millions of dollars. The agreement with Brookhaven negates the need for replacing the worn out equipment.
The single stream recycling agreement with Brookhaven is expected to save taxpayers more than $600,000 annually. It is a five-year commitment.
Brookhaven will be paying Smithtown $15 a ton for the recyclables which is expected to generate revenue of approximately $180,000 annually. This is lower than the $900,000 currently being generated, however the savings in electricity, maintanence, personnel costs, disposal costs etc. is expected to result in savings of $600,000 annually.
When single stream recycling begins in January residents will continue to place their recyclables at curbside on Wednesdays. There is no limit to the number of containers a resident puts out for collection but the containers must not exceed 32 gallons in capacity and 50 pounds in weight. Trucks will bring the materials to the MSF yard where it will be unloaded and reloaded onto municipal vehicles and driven to the Brookhaven facility.
Employees who are currently working in Smithtown’s recycling division will be reassigned. There will be no layoffs. Recycling Facts
Smithtown Town Board meeting Nov. 20 - 7 pm. Eugene A. Cannataro Senior Citizen Center - 420 Middle Country Road, Smithtown Agenda
Public Hearings -
1- The Town Board to consider amending the Zoning Code and/or Map of the Town of Smithtown for Zoning Petition #2014-03 as submitted by Sun Enterprises, Inc., for a change of zone from R-21 (Residential, single-family, minimum lot size 21,780 sq ft.) to NB (Neighborhood Business) for property located on the south side of NYS Rt. 347, 910’ southwest of Alexander Ave., Nesconset. SCTM#: 114.4-4-24.
2- The Town Board to consider amending the Zoning Code and/or Map of the Town of Smithtown for Zoning Petition #2014-02 as submitted by Haddington Company, LLC for a change of zone from WSI (Wholesale Service Industry) to NB (Neighborhood Business) for property located on the south side of NYS Rt. 347, 1180’ southwest of Alexander Ave., Nesconset. SCTM#: 114.4-4.2.
3- The Town Board to consider Zoning Petition #2014-06 as submitted by Crescent Associates, LLC for relief of conditions of a previous zone change (#94-3) for property located on the north side of NYS Rte. 25 and the south side of NYS Rte. 347, Nesconset. SCTM#: 114.4-4-5.1
4- The Town Board to consider the Year 41 (2015) Community Development Program)
Route 25 in Smithtown is getting a makeover. New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has begun Project # 080923 which will rehabilitate the pavement on NY25 between Kings Park Rd and Rte. 111. The 8.4 million dollar project is being funded with federal and state money. The project includes milling, concrete & asphalt pavement repairs and repaving. Drivers should anticipate shifting travel patterns and bumpy roads as worn pavement is removed and replaced. Drivers are encouraged to use alternative routes. www.511NY.org and www.informny.com will have information about traffic alerts and travel conditions. The roadwork is expected to last until the end of the construction season at the end of November and will be completed in 2015.