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Town mulls meeting start time

Long-running sessions prompt call for change

— The starting time of Bethlehem Town Board meetings may once again go back to 6 p.m. after several recent meetings have lasted late into the night.

On Wednesday, May 23, Councilman Jeffrey Kuhn proposed the idea since few people other than the board members themselves and town staff have been staying to witness the end of meetings. It also means citizens are unable to voice their concerns about town matters not on the agenda if they do not stay.

“This is going to be the fourth or fifth time we are going to be ending after 11 p.m.,” he said. “I seriously want to reconsider the time we’re starting these meetings.”

The start time of meetings was changed to from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the beginning of Supervisor John Clarkson’s tenure after several citizens complained about not having time to make the beginning of the meetings because of work. Recently the meetings have been lasting longer on average than in previous years.

“I guess the question for me is, when are you less likely to get people to attend the meeting,” said Kuhn. “In between 6 and 7 p.m. or in between 10 and 11 p.m.? I think the answer is you’re much less likely to get people to attend a meeting that is still going on between 10 and 11 p.m., so that’s why I think 6 p.m. works better for a starting time.”

Councilman Kyle Kotary said he liked the later start time because he can get home to have dinner with his family but added that maybe the length of the meetings is an issue. He said maybe the solution would be to add more public meetings to the schedule.

Clarkson said after the meeting that he is open to changing the start time if that’s what the public wants, but he’s not sure if that will necessarily help the situation.

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