Bethany election discussed

BETHANY – Bethany Council on Wednesday discussed the town’s upcoming election, noting residents will be able again to cast their ballots by mail.

Town Recorder Cynthia Hoffman announced ballot positions were drawn Tuesday for the seven candidates seeking five council seats in the town’s June 11 election.

The town doesn’t hold a primary election and because it isn’t divided into wards, all of the seats are at large.

On the ballots will be incumbent Linda Chivers of Main Street, challenger Thom Furbee of Logan Court, incumbents Helen Moren of Pendleton Street and Ted Pauls of Roosevelt Avenue, challenger Kerry Shaulis of Pendleton Street, and incumbents Patrick Sutherland and Gray Williamson, both of Point Breeze Drive.

Mayor Jay Eisnhauer and Hoffman are unchallenged.

Hoffman said letters will be sent soon to residents advising them of their option to cast mail-in ballots for the election.

The town is one of six Class IV municipalities – towns and villages with less than 2,000 residents – permitted to conduct early voting via mail through a pilot program begun by the state Secretary of State’s Office in 2011.

Hoffman said the move saves the town about $300 because it doesn’t require the town hall to be opened for early voting on the two Saturdays before the election.

In other business, Councilman Pat Sutherland said the town’s recently revived planning commission elected Bill Hicks and Matthew Reven as its president and vice president, respectively, while Hoffman will serve as secretary.

Sutherland said dilapidated structures and sidewalk improvements are among issues the group has been asked to consider, and members are looking into what powers they have to pursue those issues. He said the group also has discussed holding one-day festivals in the spring and fall to bring the college community, local residents and visitors together.

Eisenhauer said the planning commission may form subcommittees dedicated to specific issues under council’s direction.

“This is just a case of getting more people to put some ideas out there to get more things done,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, council:

Made plans to meet at 6 p.m. April 16 to set the levy rate. Hoffman said the town’s 2013-14 budget has been submitted to the state.

Following the meeting, Eisenhauer said the budget isn’t much different from last year’s, though the town will have to adapt to drop-in coal severance funds shared by the state from coal-producing counties. The mayor said a similar arrangement has been made by the state for revenue from counties producing natural gas.

No natural gas has been drawn from wells drilled in Bethany yet. But when it is, it may not mean a significant boost in revenue for the town, he said, because about 20 percent will be distributed among municipalities and non-gas-producing counties in the state based on population.

Learned the town has been awarded a $7,000 Governor’s Community Participation grant for the community center it established at Bethany Town Hall. Eisenhauer said former state Del. Tim Ennis actually secured the grant before resigning to serve as county commissioner early last year.

It’s the third state grant awarded for renovations to the center, which has been used for birthday parties, private holiday parties and other occasions. Recently a Zumba instructor began holding classes there six times a week, and the town receives $100 per month for the hall’s use.

On Wednesday Sutherland suggested paying 15 percent of each rental fee to the staff member who meets with those interested in renting the facility, maintains a schedule of its use and opens and locks up the hall for each event.

Hoffman, who has been handling such responsibilities without pay, said she doesn’t want to be paid but compensation should be considered for anyone who follows her in that role. Council agreed to establish the provision for whoever follows Hoffman in that capacity.

Agreed to accept bids for a 1994 Ford Crown Victoria that served as a police cruiser and to seek a temporary worker to paint curbs and do other seasonal work.