Editor, The Spotlight:
We are writing to enthusiastically support John Clarkson for a second term as Bethlehem Town Supervisor. John has accomplished many innovative and cost-saving programs over the past two years and we could mention them but instead want to focus on his temperament for public office rather than listing everything he has done.
However, we cannot fail to mention that through John’s leadership, financial reforms were instituted that resulted not only in closing a budget gap of three and one-half million dollars but also being under the NYS property tax cap by $870,000. This is good news, especially given the fact that many towns in the state have exceeded the cap and are hurting financially.
Oh yes, we said we weren’t going to focus on John’s accomplishments.
But we couldn’t miss mentioning John’s strategies for becoming a financially stable community. He cut the budget by more than $700,000, mostly through attrition, but also through sharing of town services between departments and other localities. He also created, for the first time, a multi-year financial planning structure that looks to the future fiscal needs of the town and allows for emergency and unplanned costs such as weather events (think hurricanes Irene and Sandy). In the past the town’s reserves were spent down to deal with budget gaps; as any family knows you can’t keep dipping into a reserve account to cover what should be regular expenses. When those “rainy day” funds are exhausted and an unexpected emergency arises deficits can easily follow unless there is some kind of fiscal plan in place.
And just one more thing in case everyone hasn’t heard about it.
More than $776,000 was awarded to the town through a new NYS Local Government and Efficiency Progran for shared services and modernization. It is an award given to fiscally responsible leaders who demonstrate significant innovation, savings, efficiency and modernization. It was one of the largest amounts given to any NYS community.