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Messina looks back on term

Bethlehem Town Supervisor Sam Messina speaks at the groundbreaking Dec. 15 for the Vista Technology Campus.

Bethlehem Town Supervisor Sam Messina speaks at the groundbreaking Dec. 15 for the Vista Technology Campus. Photo by Charles Wiff.

Normanside Country Club

Messina said the Town Board did exactly what a responsible body should do when considering a bid for the Normanside Country Club in early 2011. He said the board and town officials met and talked with other towns and golf course owners about the positives and negatives of owning a course.

“We got our brains wrapped around this one, and I feel that we did the right thing,” said Messina. “I think there were people that were very unhappy based on principle, and they told me so, that we went out to try and acquire the golf course.”

Messina stressed that he would not have supported the town’s $1.5 million bid for Normanside if he did not had evidence the town would’ve broken even or benefited financially from ownership. He said there was a need to keep the golf course open for recreation, including for use by those who jog and cross-country ski through Normanside.

Messina said he knows that for some in the Republican Party, his support of the Normanside bid was “pretty much the death knell” regarding support for his term in office and reelection.

Two years of budget issues

In crafting budgets for 2011 and 2012, Messina and the Town Board have kept tax increases under 2 percent. For 2012, the tax increase was 1.27 percent, well within the property tax cap adopted by state lawmakers over the summer.

Messina credited the successful budgets (though leaders butted heads late into the process in 2011) on principles he followed in crafting the spending plans, such as minimizing the use of fund balances and addressing the town’s structural deficit. Despite excluding a 1 percent cost of living increase for employees this year, Messina said the town was able to avoid a growing trend of laying off staff in order to meet its budget goals.

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