In a regular meeting on April 28, Bethel City Council talked about adding port-a-potties in town for the homeless, and reviewed audit findings that show the city could be losing money.
Council member Cecilia "Cece" Franko said that because businesses are closed due to COVID-19, the homeless population in Bethel is left with nowhere to go to the bathroom. Council member Mark Springer urged the city administration to add public port-a-potties as soon as possible.
“They don't need to be having to use, you know, the woods or public lands as a toilet because it is unsanitary,” Springer said.
Council members Hugh Dyment and Alyssa Leary urged caution, saying that port-a-potties require maintenance and could be challenging to clean up. City Manager Vincent "Vinny" Corazza said that council members should come up with a resolution at their next meeting if they wished to use public funds to address this problem.
In the same meeting, council members decided to spend $250,000 of public funds on another important city issue: replenishing the city’s gravel stock for road maintenance. They also passed zoning regulations for the new Blue Sky Subdivision. Seventy-five lots in the subdivision will be residential homes, while three lots could be used by businesses.
The city’s audit firm, Altman, Rogers & Co., presented two findings that show that the city could be losing money. The first was that Bethel's port does not have a sufficient paper trail for its revenue. Secondly, credit cards issued to city employees did not have accurate receipts for all purchases made on them. Audit firm representative Brian Kupilik said that it was important for the city to review every single transaction on cards issued to city employees.
“Otherwise you're just really, you're really just putting the city at risk to have people, essentially, just charge personal items to those cards,” Kupilik said.
City Finance Director Christine Blake said that she recently installed review processes for card purchases, but not in time for the audit. Blake is on her way out. Franko announced that Blake had submitted her resignation and thanked her for her service. The city’s finance department has seen a lot of turnover in recent years.
Regarding the city’s taxis, Corazza announced his intention to keep the current cab fare structure until May 23, when the city’s emergency ordinance expires. Until then, passengers can expect to have a cab to themselves and pay $5, plus $1 per minute.
Corazza also announced the dates for Cleanup Greenup, an event for the community to help remove trash around town that surfaces when the snow melts. This year’s Cleanup Greenup will take place from May 1 to June 8. Participating in the operation enters you into a raffle that could win you a Nintendo Switch, among other prizes.