Town of Smithtown Produces the Lowest Tax Increase (0.88%) in Suffolk County for the 2021 Operating Budget, Despite Worldwide Pandemic
On Tuesday, the Town of Smithtown adopted the 2021 operating budget, highlighting an overall tax increase of less than one percent* (.88%) for all operating funds, without utilizing fund balance. On Tuesday, November 3rd at approximately 2PM, Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim’s operating budget for the 2021 fiscal year was adopted unanimously by the Town Board. Supervisor Wehrheim noted that had it not been for the pandemic, the town would have been able to decrease taxes, noting a $6 benefit per household due to increased assessed evaluations.
“What we’re doing is working… and the numbers support this. Between developing previously blighted lots and recent revitalization efforts, assessed evaluations are up. Metaphorically speaking, think of it as a pie; the more slices to serve, the smaller the piece. In fact, if the pandemic had never happened, we would have been able to reduce taxes this year. We look forward to continuing with repairs and renovations to our park system, beaches and open space areas as a top priority.” - Supervisor Ed Wehrheim
Due to recent developments made to previously blighted properties, assessed evaluations have increased, which translates to the taxpayers shouldering less of the burden. Based on the average assessment, this adds up to a $6 benefit per household. Due to quick and decisive action taken by the Town Board early on in the pandemic, the town's reserves also remain intact.
Large scale projects which will yield an even larger return on investment, like the construction of Flynn Memorial Ballpark and the Lake Avenue Revitalization are also nearing completion. Park renovations such as new sport lighting at Gibbs Pond Park, state-of-the-art playgrounds at Kings Park Memorial Park, Morewood and Brady Park, and new lighting and walkway at the Nesconset Gazebo have also been completed. Beach improvements were also completed in the summer including the pavilion and newly constructed new deck at Otto Schubert Beach, and a new fuel dispensing system at the Long Beach Marina.
Overall taxes increased by less than 1% (.88%) for all operating funds with the exception of residents within the St. James Water district. This is accredited to key decisions made at the beginning of the pandemic by the Town Board, such as cutting 15% of discretionary spending lines, requiring pre-approval for overtime and offering an early retirement package which benefitted 2021 and beyond. Additionally, the town delayed the hiring of seasonal and part time workers and delayed delivery of leased vehicles which helped to offset some of the pandemic related shortfalls from commercial solid waste (Tulsa program) and school aged child care programs. All of these measures combined enabled the Town Board to adopt a budget that stays within the mandated allowable NYS Tax Cap limitation this year of 1.5% without the use of fund balance.