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Candidates debate economics, development of Bethlehem

Candidates for Supervisor in the Town of Bethlehem listen to instructions from Spotlight's Charles Wiff during an Oct. 24 debate sponsored by Spotlight and the League of Women Voters of Albany County.  Pictured from left to right: Kyle Kotary, John Clarkson, Wiff, and Richard Reeves-Ellington.

Candidates for Supervisor in the Town of Bethlehem listen to instructions from Spotlight's Charles Wiff during an Oct. 24 debate sponsored by Spotlight and the League of Women Voters of Albany County. Pictured from left to right: Kyle Kotary, John Clarkson, Wiff, and Richard Reeves-Ellington.

— “We’ve been doing a real good job of that, specifically, with the Wemple Road project,” said Kotary.

Clarkson talked about the importance of diversified housing in the town.

“If you have housing that appeals to seniors and younger people, you often get families that don’t have children in school,” said Clarkson. “From a fiscal stand point, that can help us tremendously, because we have taxes coming in, and we don’t have that expenditures for that particular population (students).”

The candidates then tackled the issue of budgeting, and how to better prepare the town for years to come.

“I think we’ve made the budget discussions more accessible. We’ve had more meetings. We can always do more and communicate more, but I think we have a really good process,” said Kotary, who emphasized the need for more citizen involvement, and to start the budget discussions earlier in the year.

Kotary and Clarkson agreed on the need to think beyond the next year’s budget.

“We have to look at the budget in more than a single year’s time frame. When you solve a problem a year at a time, you’re not really solving it,” said Clarkson, who added that the town has made some progress this year in reducing its use of reserves.

Reeves-Ellington stressed that the town should focus on programs that the community wants and can afford, while also gathering more public comment.

“Rather than just meetings such as this, or the monthly meetings of the board, there are a number of modern and more technological ways of getting citizen input,” said Reeves-Ellington.

Albany County Legislature

There wasn’t much agreement among the three candidates vying to represent the 36th District in the Albany County Legislature.

However, all three candidates stated they wouldn’t support a 19.2% tax levy increase that goes along with County Executive Michael Breslin’s proposed 2012 budget.

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Comments

RichardReevesEllington 2 years, 6 months ago

I want to thank the League of Women Voters and Charles Wiff of the Spotlight for sponsoring the debate.

There was one major item not discussed and one that is very important to the community: the budget. As I understand its composition, about 80% is township employee costs. This number is raising quickly and it is not being addressed in any meaningful way. When there was an opportunity to shed jobs through early retirement, it was not done. A mistake. A quick caluculation makes the total budget personnel costs, both current and retired.

Addressing this issue rquires someone experienced in negotiating with unions, working in large organizations in adverse times, and presenting stark realities to all constituents. I have that experience in 35 years of line management and at senior levels. The other two candidates do not.

For more about me please see www.bethlehem supervisor.com and rreevesellington.com

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