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Bethlehem floats a 6.89% tax hike

At the presentation at Town Hall, Kehoe crunched the proposed budget numbers for the board, stating that salary and health benefits constituted 55 percent of the new spending plan.

She said equipment costs were down and the retirement system costs were stable, but that health insurance was up 14 percent and there are large increases in energy spending and petroleum-based products such as asphalt for the highway department.

The highway fund expenditures is proposed to raise 4.7 percent, said Kehoe, but the highway department will keep the current staff level of 56 employees in place despite the increased demand on its services.

The town is also looking at a 4.7 percent increase in expenditures, Kehoe said, and is planning on hiring an additional police officer in either June or July, but added that bringing the police force up to 44 members had little impact on the budget.

The sewer tax rate is being proposed to increase 4 percent, or $1.18, and there will be a quarterly $4.50 flat fee for the water and sewer districts.

The town board scheduled a public hearing on the proposed budget for Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m. Cunningham said the proposed budget is available to the public at the town clerk's office in Town Hall or on the town's Web site.

The proposed Bethlehem budget increase of 6.89 percent does include Albany County taxes and other special districts.""

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