SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Some homeowners in Smithtown are unhappy over a plan that would force them to shell out thousands of dollars to repair crumbling sidewalks.
Anita Arnoso, of Smithtown, is among those stunned to learn she may have to fork over hundreds out of her own pocket to fix sidewalks in desperate need of repair.
“I feel our taxes are high enough that the town should take care of our sidewalks like they’ve done since I’ve lived here — 40 years,” Arnoso told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.
Smithtown Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen mailed postcards at his own expense to explain the situation to the 1,700 local residents that have filed complaints. Jorgensen said this year’s budgeted amount has already been spent.
“I’m going to do the best with the funding that I have,” Jorgensen said, “we’re over budget, I have no money in my sidewalk budget right now.”
McLogan reported Smithtown would like to relieve itself of the nearly $2 million annual expense of fixing sidewalks. The town is trying to save every penny to maintain a budget filled with higher pension and health costs, but less revenue.
Five of the 13 towns on Long Island — including Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Babylon, Islip and Huntington — now make sidewalk repair the homeowner’s responsibility. Smithtown could soon follow suit.
To change town code a public hearing must be held and homeowners would have a window of time to put in sidewalk claims that the town would fix one last time.
Sixty percent of Smithtown homes have no sidewalks, and most of those residents favor the proposed change, McLogan reported.
Addie Sullivan, citing the tough economic times, called it unfair.
“It’s more than people can afford to pay. Everybody’s hurting. Our houses aren’t selling, our taxes are high and we’re very unhappy,” Sullivan said.