“We all agreed that if it came, we would sock that away into our fund balance, so we could help pay for the potential cost of infrastructure, both necessary for replacing damaged materials but also for continuing to upgrade our infrastructure,” said Kotary.
The largest unknown expense for the town in 2012 may be the cost of rehabilitating and replacing infrastructure that was damaged during Tropical Storm Irene. Town officials first met with representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in October to discuss applications for funding. Projects approved by FEMA would be funded up to 75 percent of the way, with the town and state splitting the remaining costs of approved work.
Erik Deyoe, who was confirmed at the meeting as the Commissioner of Public Works after serving in an acting role since the summer, said that he hopes to update the board regarding the costs of damage done by the powerful storm later this month or in early December.
“It’s kind of all hands on deck to get things back to the way they used to be,” said Deyoe.
Messina also credited town staff and board members with shying away from “one-shot deals” while reducing operating costs.
“That’s how government has gotten in trouble in the past,” said Messina. “It looks at its one-shots, and then the next year, it can’t take that one, or it’s back again, and the cost has to be dealt with in a different way.”
The budget keeps the town well within the parameters of a two percent cap placed on municipalities this year. That cap was approved by the state legislature, and signed off on by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Under the law, Bethlehem would be able to increase its tax levy by up to 4.1 percent without overriding the cap.