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« Smithtown Town Board Unveils Renovated Board Room | Main | Smithtown Goes Blue for Autism Awareness »
Monday
Apr082019

What's New In Smithtown Government? RAISES 

 

By Jerry Cimisi

The Town of Smithtown has signed new contracts with the Smithtown Administrators Guild (SAG) and the Civil Service Employees of America (CSEA). The town’s employees, from board members to blue collar workers, will receive a pay raise retroactive from January 1, 2018. 

The new SAG contract run from Jan.1, 2018-Dec.31, 2020. The CSEA contract runs from Jan.1,Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim 2018, to Dec. 31, 2022.

Salaries of town council members’ salaries will increase from $65,000 to $72,316 in 2019, eventually reaching $75,000 by 2020.

SAG employees—board members, highway superintendent and the like—will receive a 2 percent retroactive raise for 2018, and a 1.5 percent increase for each of the following two years. There is a retroactive cost of living increase for 2018 and for 2019-’20. SAG members will receive a cost of living increase in July. That cost of living increase will be determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The CSEA agreement calls for a two percent retroactive pay raise for 2018; in the years 2019-2022, a 1.5 percent raise will be given on Jan. 1 and July 1 of each year. 

The raise puts town council members more on par with council members of neighboring towns. Brookhaven council members are paid 72,316; Huntington will be at $76,841 in 2020, Islip is $77,200.

Smithtown Public Information Officer Nicole Garguilo, said that in keeping town council members’ salaries “comparable with other towns, we will also attract younger people for government service. Traditionally many board members are older, often retired, and town council was more or less a part time position. We are trying to change that, have candidates look at these positions as a career. It seems younger people have become more involved in politics now. There is more information out there, digital media is playing a bigger role in politics. There are more younger elected officials.”

Supervisor Edward Wehrheim added, “We have to offer competitive salaries for elected officials. Our board members are now working at least 30-35 hours a week.”

Garguilo is the town’s very first public information officer. She received $74,206 in 2018; in March of this year she was given a $5,000 raise.

Supervisor Wherheim has given Town Councilman Thomas Lohmann a new position, in addition to his duties and salary as councilman: he is a part-time executive assistant to the supervisor at $30,000 per year. 

Wehrheim’s salary will be raised from $112,000 to $115,000. Brookhaven’s supervisor is salaried at $119,132; the Huntington supervisor is at $140,000, Islip supervisor at $102,500.

A native of Kings Park, Wehrheim has been working for the Town of Smithtown since 1971. He worked for the Department of Parks, Buildings and Grounds, became its director in 1989, retired from that department in 2003 and became a town council member. He was elected for his first term as supervisor in 2017.

(Wehrheim’s predecessor, Patrick Vecchio*, served for forty years as town supervisor. Wehrheim defeated him in the Republican primary for the nomination.)

In addition to signing new contracts for its employees, the town has also undertaken extensive renovations, at town hall, specifically to the town board room.

Wehrheim said, “It was a complete renovation, from the ceiling to the floor, the heating and air conditioning. The last time work had been there was in the 1950s, so it really needed it. We look at that room as the people’s room. The renovation was just completed and we had our first meeting there after the renovation on March 21. The public was very appreciative of what was done.”

The town spent $80,000 on the renovations, which included an update of its live streaming equipment. The town live streams its work sessions, on FIOS and Optimum. 

Wherheim said that $60,000 of the monies for the renovations came from the parks budget, with the other $20,000 funding from cablevision. By law, cable companies must carry local government meetings on its public access channels.

When asked what he would like to see improved in the town, the supervisor said he would be focused on downtown revitalization for the three business districts in the township: Smithtown, Kings Park and St. James. His administration intends to make use of the monies the state has designated $40 million to sewer Smithtown and Kings Park at $20 million for each.

The town has also secured $3.9 million in DASNY (Dormitory Authority of the State of New York) funds from State Senator John Flanagan and bonded approximately $4 million for sewers on Lake Avenue in St. James.

The supervisor said this would enable the town to increase its water usage capacity to host larger restaurants “and with apartments above them, meeting the standards of the Board of Health.” The sewer project for Kings Park will begin in spring 2020; sewers for downtown Smithtown and St. James are not yet scheduled.

Wehrheim added, “We are actively improving our parks and recreation areas. In 2018 we renovated three parks, two in St. James and one in Nesconsett, as well as the golf course and catering facilities at the town’s Landing Country Club.

“We are also beginning this year to restore the Flynn Memorial Park, which is a four-ballfield complex. In the mid-1980s the USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association), which features adult softball, had its seven-day tournament there; but apparently it was not kept up to their liking, and they’ve been having the tournament in New Jersey now for many years. We’ve been having discussions with the USSSA to get them back here. It would be a major financial boost to the town, with not just the players coming out, but their families—a boost to our hotels, restaurants, delis. We hope to have that restoration completed in 2020.”

See Town Adopted Budget

* Edit for name correction. Patrick Vecchio was mentioned as Ed Vecchio.

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