BETHLEHEM A possible $3.5 million budget gap for the coming years is serving as a backdrop for a series of presentations from Bethlehem town department heads on possible cuts and consolidations.
On Wednesday, June 13, the Parks and Recreation Department presented to the Town Board a list of possible budget eliminations that was created with the help of the Budget Advisory Committee.
“It’s not that we would want to make these cuts, but they are options for the board to consider,” said Parks and Recreation Administrator Nan Lanahan.
After working with Lanahan for several weeks, Joan Gavilik, a member of the Budget Advisory Committee, presented the information to the board.
The Parks and Recreation Department has an annual budget of $1.7 million, of which about 40 percent is supplemented by user fees. In addition, the Office of Children and Family Services provides about $10,000 each year to offset costs of specific programs like Youth Employment Services, a program to help young adults find jobs, and the Middle School Pit, a meeting place for students after school.
“I think we all know as Bethlehem residents we have very strong Parks and Rec programs,” said Gavilik. “That’s why a lot of us move to Bethlehem and a lot of us want to live here.”
The committee looked at areas to decrease costs or increase revenue by comparing operations to what is done in other municipalities.
According to Lanahan, the department spends the most in ball field maintenance, as well as caring for the golf course and pool.
“Changes to those areas would have the most impact to budget,” she said in an interview after the meeting.
There are 26 ball fields under town ownership. Gavilik said the budget committee found the fields are better maintained than those of the school district or other municipalities in the area. By scaling down maintenance and providing less equipment like goals, the department could save about $20,000. Also, an additional $7,000 could be taken in if there was an increase in user fees. Fees have not been raised since 2007.