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Town offers reduced work hours

The Bethlehem Town Board tackled a number of issues during its Wednesday, Feb. 11, meeting.

An agenda item to institute a voluntary work reduction program for town employees was unanimously passed. Modeled after a state program that allows workers to take reduced hours, certain workers in Bethlehem can opt for fewer hours if they wish.

The voluntary program does not cover public safety or emergency workers, according to town Supervisor Jack Cunningham.

We're looking for opportunities to reduce our expenditures, Cunningham said. "It will give the town some needed relief in its budget."

He described it as an exchange of hours for pay. It can be beneficial to workers who have families and want to spend more time at home or take summer hours when children are out of school, according to Cunningham.

Councilman Kyle Kotary said it was in line with the town's values and bottom line.

"This is a part of our continued commitment to our town employees, our most valued resources," Kotary said. "I support this."

Councilman Mark Hennessey agreed, saying it was a good program. "We listen to our residents when they come to talk to us," he added.

The state's program has been in effect since the mid-1990s.

Resident Linda Jasinski said she thought the program was a good idea and a good way to save money. She told the board that she has participated in the state's program.

The board also unanimously passed a resolution to create a PATHs committee. The new committee will be looking at ways of interconnecting pedestrian pathways and sidewalks throughout Bethlehem's residential neighborhoods and creating more "walkable communities."

Jasinski said the new PATHs committee should include residents from South Bethlehem, an area where there are little in the ways of sidewalks. She commented that residents have to pay for sidewalks that do not benefit them should be represented on the new committee.

"Once again, you seemed to have forgotten about South Bethlehem," Jasinski said, and asked why there were not sidewalk districts to help pay the cost, much like a water or sewer district.

There were 11 members appointed to the new committee, including Stephen Downs; Jason Gall, assistant administrator of the parks and recreation department; Mark Jordan; Sue Kambrich; Scott Lewenden; Daniel Lewis; Mark Lewis; Katherine McCarthy, planning board member; Julie Sasso; John Schonberg; and Caleb Wistar.""

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