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Now it’s the public’s turn on budget

Bethlehem’s tentative plan keeps 1.27 percent tax hike, but cuts borrowing

— Highway Superintendent Gregg Sagendorph said his department would try to meet a 10 percent reduction in overtime, but for his job that depends a lot on the weather. He said he’s going into the winter season shorthanded, as well, and can’t afford more labor because it must be hired at prevailing wages (which Sagendorph referred to as the “elephant in the room”).

Councilwoman Joann Dawson, who admitted she’s often sought to squeeze pennies from the budget, said getting to a 0 percent tax change is a “laudable” goal, but also irresponsible from a services perspective.

The public hearing on the budget will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Town Hall.

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RichardReevesEllington 3 years, 2 months ago

While the Board is to be commended for a careful budget. Most changes are to services to the community or material purchases. As I understand the budget breakdown, these areas account for about 18% of the total budget. The largest item, personnel costs are approximately 80%. I see no discussion on managing this fast growth area. It appears that the entire budget could be personnel costs within the decade.

During the recent debate, additional focus was on services consolidation, long range plans, and other areas that are at the margins of the costs. The next Supervisor and Board will have to actively engage in the personnel issue and the Supervisor should be a person with experience in personnel matters in both good and adverse times. I have 34 years of such experience, while the other candidates do not. This should be a strong consideration when you cast your vote. For more, please go to rreevesellington.com for my personal data and bethlehemsupervisor.com for my political profile and platform.

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RichardReevesEllington 3 years, 2 months ago

And additional comment on personnel costs. John Clarkson rightly wants a long term capital plan, Kyle Kotary wants that and a long term budgeting process. Neither have brought up the need for a long term personnel plan. This should be be foundation of the other two, given the amount of cost associated with current employees and retirees. Such a plan, needs to set personnel numbers goals in ways that reduce the rapid growth of these expenses. Layoffs are not necessarily the best solution as there are others: attrition, early retirements, and contractual negotiations. In my experience, a mix best serves all.

The starting point is for our citizens to better understand where the costs are today, where they are growing fastest, and what elements are causing fast growth. Then we all can move forward in a more informed way.

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