Public shares budget views

A variety of opinions were aired at a sparsely attended public hearing, Wednesday, Oct. 25, on Bethlehem's 2007 proposed budget. The town fiscal plan calls for a 2.79 percent increase to the tax levy with total expenditures up less than 1 percent.

Taxpayer Norm Morand said, although overall town taxes are up less than 3 percent, his individual town taxes are 14 percent higher than the previous year.

Reassessment hurt the homeowners and not the businesses in town, said Morand. "You just passed on more cost to the homeowner."

Will Veil, a senior outreach worker for the town said he believes long-range vision is what is needed.

"I support a slow and gradual increase," said Veil. "We have wonderful services in this town, and I want to see them stay."

Other speakers shared concerns that the town is deferring important projects for future years when the time to address these needs is today.

"Someone is going to pay the piper eventually," said John Smolinski. "I am in favor of belt tightening, but I certainly think there is a middle ground in what to fund."

Robert Jasinksi warned the board that closing the Rupert Road landfill will be more costly than they may expect.

"What are you going to do with construction waste still generated in town? What rate will you have with it, and where will the waste go?" asked Jasinksi. "The operation is going to change."

Former town board member Ted Putney also said it is time the town board address capital projects.

"Don't defer capital costs for the sake of the short term," said Putney.

Highway department employee Matthew Goedeke spoke out for other employees afraid to ask the town board to keep the 3 percent cost of living increase for nonunionized workers.

"Voting 'no' on this 3 percent is like taking food out of their children's mouths," Goedeke said.

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