Bethlehem to vote on referendum Tuesday

Posted at: 04/27/2013 3:04 PM
Updated at: 04/28/2013 11:17 AM
By: Dan Bazile

Voters in the town of Bethlehem will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide on a consolidation plan. Town officials want to merge the Highway Department with the Department of Public Works. The idea has sparked some controversy. Both sides were out Saturday to spread their message about the plan.

Bethlehem Town Supervisor John Clarkson spent part of his day going door to door in Delmar, but not for his re-election campaign. He's trying to bring awareness to a referendum that will go before voters on Tuesday.

“I don't think this is a partisan issue. I think it's about what's best for town government,” says Clarkson.

Clarkson is urging voters to approve a measure that would eliminate the Highway Superintendent position as an elected office. The duties of that position would also be consolidated with the department of public works.

“Counties, cities - they all have combined Highway and DPW departments cause they do the same type of work. If we could combine them we'll be able to save a lot of money,” he explains.

While Clarkson was going door to door, the opposition was at the corner of Feura Bush Rd and Rte 9w in Glenmont, waving signs that asked motorists to vote the other way.

“To keep the people's right to vote. That's what this is primarily about. They're going to lose it if in fact this local law passes on Tuesday,” says one protester.

Clarkson maintains that taxpayers stand to benefit a great deal with savings of more than $375,000 annually, but the group says there's no proof the consolidation will save a penny.

Voters will have the final say on Tuesday.