One year ago, Bethlehem Supervisor Sam Messina was standing before a packed Town Hall auditorium to deliver his vision for his first term in office. This Wednesday at his second State of the Town address, he reflected on what has been done halfway through that term, what remains to be accomplished and how to best plot a course to the future.
He once again grasped the compass that sits in his office, the same one he referenced when he was sworn in to office. Like at his inauguration, Messina said the task ahead is one he will not tackle alone.
The compass is still there. I use it as my guide, he said. "My responsibilities here are more to use the powers of the board of elected officials, staff and town volunteers to get where we need to go. The power is not in the supervisor."
After a busy year, Messina had plenty to talk about when it came to looking back at 2010, which saw the implementation of several long-discussed ideas, including the passage of a law mandating the release of Town Board meeting agenda attachments, approval on a slew of housing projects and the opening up of the Clapper Road Water Treatment Plant to service more residential customers, the last of which Messina characterized as the most important town government action of the year.
"It made us more independent...it showed the businesses in our town we're concerned about our costs...and more than anything else, to me, it showed me that our Town Board had the courage to do what was right," Messina said.
Last year also saw what most town leaders said was the most difficult budget process in recent memory. The Town Board was often at odds with Messina when it came to how finances should be handled, but they came to an agreement on the budget just days before adoption was scheduled.