Town tackles budget for 2007

Police, public works and recreation were among the many departments under the budget microscope during the first workshop session of Bethlehem's proposed 2007 budget.

Police Chief Lou Corsi told the board his department has been understaffed for well over a year and con-tinues to try to work up to a 43-person police force.

In 2007, I am promoting one person to detective and hiring one more officer, said Corsi.

The town board has already hired three new officers this year because of retirement and the death of two detectives. Overtime costs in the department were up in 2006, but full-time salary costs were lower because of the undermanned staff.

"We did cut a lot of discretionary money in our department," Corsi said. "It's going to be a tight year next year."

New fees are being considered for parks and recreation services to increase revenue, including fees to use the town fields.

"We met individually with the soccer clubs, Babe Ruth leagues and Little Leagues and told them we were considering fees for fields that would be assessed on a weekly basis," said parks and recreation Director Nan Lanahan.

Members of the board agreed it is better to assess fees than to raise taxes.

"I think user fees is an appropriate way to go," said board member Dan Plummer. "Keeping the overall tax rate down as much as we can should be the goal."

Capital projects needs and new expenditures regarding the town's water quality were discussed with Department of Public Works Director Bruce Oliver. One goal is to create more shared services between departments.

"New hires in DPW will assist the highway department through a shared service agreement that will reduce the overall highway department staff by two in 2007," said Supervisor Theresa Egan.

The highway department staff will be cut from 60 to 58 in 2007.

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