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Bethlehem loses $1 million in revenue

The comptroller said the drop in expenditures and the fund balance was made with town residents in mind.

"To be fair to the town and the taxpayers, we're recommending a mid-budget fund change," she said. "We're going to use that additional $122,000 to close the gap."

By and far, Traylor said the "big hit" in revenue tax was from revenues outside of the town's control.

"The mortgage tax was significantly lower than we expected," Traylor said. As for the sales tax, she said, "We're all praying it will go up in September."

Bethlehem is receiving FEMA funds for the December's ice storm that downed power lines and tree limbs and caused widespread damage, which Traylor noted would increase the town's highway fund balance.

She, along with the rest of the board, thanked the town's department heads in controlling its individual expenditures, which included a hiring freeze, limiting furniture acquisitions, maintaining vehicles longer and other such measures.

Councilman Kyle Kotary said he was proud of making cuts in the mid-year budget as apposed to other measures of closing the gap and asked Traylor if she thought the sale tax "would bounce back."

She told Kotary that the Sept. 30 numbers would show the third-quarter numbers, but that if the numbers are bad, Bethlehem "may need to do a third-quarter mid-budget cut."

Hennessey agreed with Kotary's sentiments, stating, "I think it's great we're reducing our spending."

Councilman Sam Messina spoke about the fund balance and, drawing from the recommendations of the 20/20 Advisorary Committee, said Bethlehem needs to address the issue judging from a recent trend of using the fund balance for budget shortfalls.

"There still has been a general progression of the fund balance going like that," he said. "We have some opportunities here [to change that]."

Traylor told Messina, "I know the dwindling fund balance you are speaking of," but described the town's fund balance as being around 13 percent of its budget and "still very healthy."

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