Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio is proposing a 2014 budget that would offer homeowners a break in taxes thanks to a combination of prior budgeting, a projected increase revenue and use of reserve funds.
Town of Smithtown officials have proposed a $104.3 million budget for 2014, representing an overall $700,000 increase over the current 2013 budget. However, its will under New York State's property tax cap by $2.3 million.
Despite the overall increase, Vecchio said homeowners would see their town taxes cut by $13.12 for a house assessed at $5,5000 if the 2014 budget is approved.
"However you look at the budget, there's a decrease in taxes to the average homeowner and given the state of the economy that is a remarkable achievement," Vecchio said.
These tax cuts may be possible, in large part, due to the town's budgeting for 2013. Smithtown Comptroller Louis Necroto said the town put aside nearly $11 million for expected health care insurance costs in 2013, but is anticipated to come up at $10.3 million. The $700,000 additional will be applied towards 2014 budget.
"We do not anticipate an increase in health care insurance next year, not based on what our insurance company is telling us" Necroto said.
The town will also find significant savings by eliminating jobs through attrition of staff as 5 high-level staff members have left or retired this year: a director in Public Safety Department at roughly $115,000; one staff in Engineering; two staff in Parks & Recreation Department with salaries at roughly $250,000, and one employee in Highway Safety. Vecchio said the town will not be filling all of these positions.
The town's former public safety director position has been filled with a part-time deputy director, and the engineering position will be rehired at a lower starting salary, according to the supervisor. The parks and highway positions will be not filled.
Necroto said despite a rocky housing market, he is seeing trends that the town will see an increase in mortgage tax revenue in 2014. He originally budgeted $4.2 million for 2013, and now expected to the town to take in closer to $4.5 million. Based on these figures, he has predicted Smithtown to make $5 million off mortgage taxes in 2014.
Despite these savings and increased revenue, the supervisor still proposes using $2.75 million of the town's reserve funds to apply to its general funds to help keep taxes down. This is less than $3 million in reserves used to keep the 2013 budget in check and does not pose a fiscal issue, according to Vecchio.
"It's possible that someone might give us criticism [our reserves] are too high," he said. "We have been able to come through Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy and the 30-inch blizzard with the ability to battle those storms because of our reserves."
The supervisor said the proposed 2013 budget's highlights include utilizing savings from the town's new garbage carter contracts, estimates savings of $500,000, and new contracts with Huntington's Covanta for waste disposal, will be used to revamp the Montclair Avenue Yard to bring it up to DEC standards.
A public budget hearing is scheduled for Oct. 24, 7 p.m. at the Eugene A. Cannataro Senior Citizen Center on Middle Country Road.