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Board to discuss supervisor's term length

A proposal to extend the term of the Bethlehem town supervisor will be moving forward.

The idea of stretching the 2-year office into a 4-year one will be placed on the agenda of the Wednesday, Aug. 10, meeting of the Town Board, according to Supervisor Sam Messina. If the Town Board so chooses, it could advance to a public hearing and then on to the November ballot in the form of a voter referendum.

Messina said he hopes the board will schedule a public hearing for Aug. 24. The deadline to pass legislation to put the measure on the ballot is Sept. 9.

“I hope that the board will feel comfortable that we've had enough input after the 24th to act on it that night,” Messina said.

The proposal was brought up earlier this year by the town's 20/20 Advisory Committee, though extending the term length has been discussed privately by town leaders for years. Several former town supervisors have come out in support of the idea.

If passed, the coming term of office would not be affected, meaning the 4-year supervisor term would begin in 2014. Messina is not running for another term.

A report by the 20/20 Committee also suggested making the offices of receiver of taxes, town clerk and highway superintendent appointed instead of elected. Messina said he has no plans to advance these measures for the 2011 election.

“In my opinion, more work has to go into those in terms of public discussion, in terms of the development of some data, and then they could be moved forward for consideration if the board chose to do that,” he said.

In public forums already held on the proposal, some members of the public have spoken against converting elected offices to appointed positions. The committee's report argues there could be cost savings to be found and that most town departments are run by appointed employees.

The Town Board meets at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 445 Delaware Avenue, Delmar.

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