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Supervisor’s involvement in report questioned

Subcommittee members say final version of ward system suggestions altered

— Some Bethlehem Town Board members have called into question the legitimacy of a Governance Options Study drafted by an advisory committee after subcommittee members said the final version doesn’t mesh with previous drafts.

The study examines three issues: the possibility of applying a ward system for Town Board positions, changing the terms served by town officials and implementing a different way to appoint department heads. It has been completed and released to the public on the town’s website. A presentation on the report’s contents is to be scheduled for a future meeting when all Town Board members are present.

At the Town Board meeting held Wednesday, July 11, Councilman Kyle Kotary said he’d heard concerns from members of the ward system subcommittee that the final report was changed to include recommendations from Supervisor John Clarkson and Deputy Supervisor John Smolinsky, neither of whom are on the group.

“I don’t think the supervisor or the deputy supervisor are on this or any of the citizen’s committees,” Kotary said. “I thought that these were citizen’s committees … they were meant to be just that, exploratory, research informational types of committees to gather and collect information, and also give us some ideas. And I would hope that is what we’re getting.”

Kotary asked who actually wrote the reports and asked that unedited versions of the reports be sent to Town Board members.

Councilman Jeffrey Kuhn said he too was “a little troubled” with an email he received from members of the subcommittee. He said of the five people appointed to the ward system subcommittee, four emailed the board with concerns that the report was changed.

“My concern is that I was never offered a draft version of this report to blue pencil and I don’t think any of the other members of the board were either,” he said.

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