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Taking stock of town's finances

Bethlehem Town Hall

Bethlehem Town Hall

“I fully support moving forward with a multi-year financial plan and capital plan, looking at our fund balance policy,” said board member Kyle Kotary, who called it worthwhile to get an “appropriate and consistent policy” on the planning-related issues.

“We seem to be right now in the position of responding to specific individual items, requests, crises as they emerge without knowing what’s down the road six months, nine months or five years,” said Joann Dawson.

The hard part may be taking action on the recommendations. During the presentation to the board, committee members made mention of a 10-year capital plan put forward in 2009 by the town’s Department of Public Works. No action has been taken by the board to adopt that plan.

Ideas as basic as improvements in the collection of taxes are also included in the report. One point was that the town should continue to move toward online tax collections when possible. Board members were also advised of potential loopholes that allow for businesses that enter the town to avoid paying their appropriate share of taxes in their first year due to already-existing contracts with the business that used to be in their location.

Town Attorney James Potter raised questions about the legality of recommendations such as the potential for passing off collection to another entity such as Albany County. Even though a detailed legal analysis was not done, committee members told Potter that they believe the recommendations are possible based on feedback received from department heads and town employees.

While much of the report case an eye to the future, the committee did find that the town is in good shape to address accountability regarding transactions. That accountability, according to committee members, starts in the comptroller’s office.

“It is well managed,” said Blendell. “Our comptroller does a very good job. The comptroller has control of all the expenditures, all the purchasing and all the investments. You don’t get anything purchased in this town without going through the comptroller.”

The board took no official action regarding the report and did not indicate when it may be revisited.

A link to the full report can be found here

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