What’s important to note is the town should not be facing this situation under any of the PILOTs being handed out for businesses in, say, the Vista Tech Park. These agreements are drawn up a great deal more sensibly and the town should not be put into such an untenable situation when they expire in 12 years or so. Whether they should be handed out in the first place is another debate altogether.
What is quite clear is long-term planning is needed more and more as running a municipality like Bethlehem becomes more complicated. Clarkson has presented a multi-year capital plan along with his budget — but several supervisors before him have tried to get a formal policy on track, as well. It has always been preempted by other discussions, other emergencies. Maybe it will take hold this time around, now that a lack of foresight will be hitting constituents in the pocketbook.
We fully expect residents to come to Town Board meetings between now and November to voice their opinions on this spending plan. They should, because it will affect Bethlehem deeply. But while thinking about the budget, we would urge residents to also think about the town’s long-term prospects — and demand their leaders do the same.