Revising residency laws for town employees

Bethlehem officials want to establish clarity

— Bethlehem officials are looking to make changes to the law that establishes which employees of the town must also live within its borders.

Supervisor John Clarkson said the town law already has a provision in place, but it’s not very specific about which positions are covered. All elected officials must live in the town, but the provision covering other employees wasn’t as clear.

“A local law can supersede state law and be more specific,” Clarkson said, referencing former Bethlehem Supervisor Jack Cunningham becoming the Colonie Commissioner of Public Works, even though Cunningham didn’t live in that town.

Clarkson said he would like to see Bethlehem’s law become more detailed, in order to be a better guide in the future.

“The bill we have drafted, the local law rather, does not apply to a single, specific position. Rather, what it attempts to do is identify all the positions for which we believe state law would already require residency,” said Clarkson.

Positions mostly include that of department heads, but some positions can be grandfathered in, such as long-time employees, for exemptions. The town can also waive the requirement if officials are looking for a certain skill-set that isn’t found within the town.

According to the memorandum, the town “will continue to recruit broadly and will make every effort to identify qualified town residents for town positions. Out-of-town applicants for these position will be told that relocation to Bethlehem will be necessary unless the Town of Bethlehem or town justices … are willing to grant a specific waiver.”

The public hearing for residents was set for Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 6 p.m. at the beginning of the next town board meeting.

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