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Bethlehem's budget outlook good

Leaf collection fee taken off the table

— For 2013, things are proceeding slightly off of budget projections. Current projections show the town falling about $60,000 under budget for revenues and running more than $300,000 over budget when it comes to expenditures. The lion’s share of the difference in expenditures is due to contractual charges related to the town’s reassessment project.

Included in the variance in revenue projections are “refuse and garbage” revenues, which are coming in $79,000 below projections. Councilman Bill Reinhardt wondered if that could be connected to the town’s transfer station and compost facilities, where hours were trimmed back this year.

“I’m kind of curious whether perhaps, by reducing the transfer station hours to reduce cost, we’ve also reduced revenue,” he said.

Cohen said that possibility has been noted, but more homework will have to be done to pinpoint the issue.

Following the presentation on budget projections, Co-Chairman of the town’s citizen Budget Advisory Committee Tom Clash updated the board on the group’s work. The advisory team was formed last year in part in deference to the fiscal challenges of that year.

Clash said the group has been looking primarily in the areas of shared services in the Highway Department, town energy costs and the town’s court security services. He also said an on-demand brush pickup system could potentially make that service more efficient.

“I think the focus is going to be looking at some areas that may have some longer term savings and efficiencies,” Clash said.

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