Bethlehem supervisor candidate floats alternative budget proposal

He noted that personnel-related costs like health care coverage and pension costs are rising, with very little opportunity for recourse on the part of the town.

Cunningham declined comment on the pay cut element of the proposal.

"If he wants to make a motion when we're actually going to approve the budget in November, he's welcome to do that," Cunningham said.

Messina told The Spotlight he was going directly to the press with his proposal, a fact confirmed by Cunningham who, as supervisor, is also the town's chief financial officer.

"I'm disappointed that he would hand it to The Spotlight and not talk to the Town Board about it," said Cunningham, who added that he believed the release to be politically motivated.

Messina maintains his amended budget is a suggestion to move the debate on the budget forward.

"I don't have any other way to get this notion or thought out to the public," he said. "I don't jump onto emotional issues"and there are many of them out there now"for political purposes."

When asked how he would go about making the cuts, Messina said it would have to be a collaborative effort put forward to department heads.

"You take them one at a time, you sit around the table with the department headsand you say, 'Here's our goal and objective,'" Messina said.

Cunningham argued that process has already occurred through public budget workshops earlier this year. In the meetings, the Town Board meets with department heads and talks about their budgets line by line.

"That's the opportunity for the board to start to push back if they believe the spending is too high and ask questions," said Cunningham. "[Messina] asked some questions, but he never said at any point 'I don't think we should spend this money.'"

"When we left those meetings, he was fully on board with the budget we had presented," Cunningham said.

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