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Town Board rolls back meeting time

Bethlehem leaders say lengthy sessions exclude public

— The Bethlehem Town Board has decided to move the start time of its meetings back to 6 p.m.

At a meeting on Wednesday, June 13, members voted to move the start of meetings back to the earlier time slot because recent meetings have been ending far later than usual. 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, few people other than the board members themselves and town staff have been staying to witness the end of meetings, some of which have adjourned after 11 p.m. Councilman Jeffrey Kuhn said he was concerned citizens were unable to voice their concerns about town matters not on the agenda if they do not stay.

“I am certainly accountable for putting a lot of things on the budget and yet when I ask myself, are there things we would not put on there, really there isn’t anything,” said Clarkson. “Looking toward the schedule for the summer I want to spend a great deal of time going through some big picture budget issues, which I think is necessary and appropriate to do in public. It does take time, there’s no doubt.”

Councilman George Lenhardt said he was fine with whatever decision the board came to, but added he understands how some younger residents with families would want to have dinner before attending the meeting.

Clarkson said he felt even if the time were changed, the meetings might still go on late because discussion may expand to fill the time.

Kuhn said if meetings were going to be on the longer side, for instance four hours, it would be better to hold them from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. because it would allow for greater participation from the public.

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