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Bethlehem town board OK's budget

Councilman Kyle Kotary addressed the car issue later in the meeting, saying the town had already begun curbing its transportation expenses.

"I wanted to commend the supervisor on actually addressing this months ago by creating a fleet manager position for the first time, taking all of our vehicles and looking at them townwide by pooling them together, and we're doing exactly what was recommended earlier," Kotary said. "As for looking to find ways for savings and also putting in operation cuts, this is something that Jack has taken leadership on."

Resident Robert Miller said he, too, supported a "zero tax increase."

"I support the zero increase, you have not justified your needs, and I think this is the year you should justify your needs for a tax increase," Miller said. "There's no reason for this budget increase."

Miller spoke against a proposed additional officer to the Bethlehem Police Department during the budget's public comment meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 22. He said "tax increases should be need-based only, not on want-based," and that "if I don't see a crime, then I don't see a need to increase the police staff."

He argued at that meeting that the town's police force constitutes 1.4 officers per 1,000 residents and that number was "much higher" than other towns its size. He said the same number of officers is often found in a city of 600,000 or more.

However, Bethlehem's Deputy Police Chief Tim Beebe said Miller's numbers "were way off."

Beebe said with an estimated population of 33,922 in Bethlehem and 42 sworn officers, there are 1.26 officers per 1,000 residents. According to the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services, the town had 570 crimes in 2007.

Beebe released statistical information of other municipalities that showed in the city of Albany, which has a population of 94,741, 334 officers dealt with 5,376 crimes in 2007. Albany works out to have 3.52 officers per 1,000 residents.

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