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Few weigh in on town budget

No changes made as Nov. 14 adoption date approaches

Bethlehem Town Hall

Bethlehem Town Hall

— Smolinsky said the town operated with a five-member planning board for a number of years, but its size was increased because several members lived in Florida part time and there were at times not enough members to create a quorum. Now that is not the case, and Smolinsky said a five-member board would work fine if those appointed are qualified.

Resident Jared King suggested the Town Board vote to opt out of the state pension system and then change the town’s retirement plan to something more cost effective.

“I want the town council and residents to know this would solve our current operational and financial difficulties and would solve them for the future … and we would not have to set aside $1.5 million while we kick the can for future town supervisors to address after three years,” he said.

King also questioned the number of unused police cars and the need for police officers at town meetings.

No changes have been made to the proposed budget since it was presented in September, but board members have the opportunity to pitch changes in the coming weeks. A budget adoption is scheduled for Nov. 14.

In a later interview, Councilman Jeffrey Kuhn said he agrees with the proposed spending plan and has no changes to suggest at this point.

“We find ourselves facing very difficult decisions budgetarily,” he said. “I think that the supervisor has tried to take a very balanced approach in solving these problems. We can’t simply cut our way out without cutting core services that contribute critically to the quality of life in the town.”

Councilman Kyle Kotary felt otherwise.

Kotary said he felt there were “good, bad and ugly” aspects in the proposal. He commended Clarkson’s staff on cutting costs and implementing a capital spending plan, but felt asking residents for such a large tax increase was unfair. Sewer and water fees are also scheduled to rise by 6 percent in addition to the property tax hike.

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