Smithtown cuts hiring to stay under tax cap
The state's 2 percent cap on property tax increases may be keeping rising taxes in check, but Smithtown officials say they've had trouble planning budgets that meet it.
Smithtown Town Supervisor Pat Vecchio says he's trying his best to lay out a budget that doesn't cut services or lay off workers.
"I think the tax cap idea is a good one," Vecchio says. "However, there are so many erroneous conditions in it that make it very difficult for municipalities to meet it."
One of the biggest conditions Vecchio blames for the troubles is rising health care costs. He says they should be excluded from the tax cap.
This year alone, Smithtown faces a $600,000 increase in health premiums for employees, he says.
To offset that increase, Vecchio says the town won't make new hires to fill about a dozen vacant positions.
"Part of the way to meet the cap is by attrition," Vecchio says. "When employees retire or leave, we do our best not to fill that position."