Bethlehem taxpayers balk at levy hike

"In my mind, at this time, tax increases should be need-based only, not on want-based," resident Robert Miller said.

He said information in the presentation that suggested some things in the budget are necessary because of the potential to affect public safety reflected more of a "want" than a "need."

"But if I don't see a crime, then I don't see a need to increase the police staff, for example, and to increase my taxes," Miller said.

He argued 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.

Robert Jasinski, a former supervisor candidate in town, said he thought the tax increase was much higher then in neighboring municipalities and that more could be done to cut down on departmental expenditures.

"We've increased almost every department, I think we should go back and ask the departments what can be cut, and you may find you can still cut some of it," said Jasinski.

Referring to an interest the town has shown in purchasing a Creble Road property for the public works department, Jasinski suggested the town put that idea on hold until the economy gets better.

"What do we need a $1 million, or $800,000 or $900,000 property on Creble Road for, I can't see at this time," said Jasinski.

Cunningham has repeatedly said that the town's infrastructure needs to be maintained and upgraded in order to prevent situations like what happened earlier this year when aging water meters at the water facility needed to be replaced because they were leaking mercury.

"My income's not going up 7 percent," Norman Morand told the board. "Everyone else is taking dramatic steps to keep their budgets down. I don't see the same dramatic steps being taken here."

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