A new town board for Bethlehem starts business at its first meeting of 2018 on Wednesday, Jan. 10. Ali Hibbs / Spotlight News
BETHLEHEM — At the town board’s organizational meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 10, Supervisor David VanLuven’s first order of business was to appoint Giles Wagoner to serve a one-year term on the board seat he vacated after he was elected supervisor last fall.
Wagoner was sworn in by Town Clerk Nanci Moquin on a Bible held by Councilwoman Joyce Becker, after VanLuven explained that he was chosen from a field of 22 candidates for his experience and familiarity with town issues.
Becker was later named Deputy Supervisor by VanLuven, a position that does not come with additional pay. Item 4 on the agenda set the salaries of the elected officials: Supervisor – $118,017, Town Board Members (each) – $15,571, Town Clerk – $76,926, Receiver of Taxes – $55,604, Superintendent of Highways – $103,996, and Town Justice (each) – $51,466.
In a little more than half an hour, the board approved more than 60 housekeeping items such as re-appointing certain board members, department staff and town counsel, setting salaries and fees, adoption of the town purchasing and investment policies, and authorization of elected officials to handle town funds, among other things.
VanLuven made a series of announcements, commending the town’s Department of Public Works for fixing the six water main breaks that have already occurred in 2018 and thanking residents for coming out to celebrate First Night in frigid temperatures, as well as the sponsors that made the event possible.
He also noted that the town’s Receiver of Taxes, Alicia Roney, received $3 million in 2018 property taxes, in just two days, from residents who chose to file before federal changes could take effect, and thanked them for their patience.
“Normally, tax payments come in in a steady stream over several weeks,” said Van Luven. “But, this year, because of changes to the tax code, thousands and thousands of residents submitted their payments in two days. Alicia and others are working hard to process all of the payments that they’ve received, but so many came in so quickly that it overwhelmed our usual capacity.”
The new supervisor also recognized town employees for working to ensure that three residents, displaced from their homes due to severe water damage that caused part of their senior living development to be evacuated, had somewhere to go.
“Jack Brennan, the director of the Emergency Management Office, worked with our police department and the Good Samaritan Village senior community to find safe places for them to stay,” said VanLuven. “This is one of those small things for most of us, but it has a real impact and I think it shows the character of our town employees and our dedication to taking care of our residents.”
The board will meet next on Wednesday, Jan 24, at 6 p.m. at Bethlehem Town Hall.