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Clarkstown Residents Want Facts Behind Garage Consolidation Proposal (VIDEO)

Town board considers merger of highway, police and mini trans garages and staff.

 

Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack introduced the town board’s proposal to at Tuesday night’s workshop. Residents at the meeting questioned the merits of the idea. Currently the town has three garages with a total of 13 mechanics working in them.

The highway department garage employs seven mechanics. The police garage has four mechanics and two are based at the mini trans garage. The town board proposed a local law on May 15 “to transfer the function of highway department mechanics and consolidating all town mechanics under the Town Garage Department.” The head of that new department would be a fleet manager who would report to the board.

The department would be responsible for the repair, service and maintenance of town vehicles and equipment. The town has 344 vehicles. Town Supervisor Alex Gromack said with the consolidation, savings could be realized in the future.

“I think there are 13 mechanics,” he said. “If they’re all under one roof, one umbrella, you could probably downsize.”

Gromack said an internal review conducted by the controller’s office, personnel department and others estimated within the next few years between one and three mechanics would retire. If the garages were consolidated, those positions would not be filled because the mechanics would be cross-trained to work on all town vehicles. Gromack said if the mechanics could service all town vehicles, then there would be more flexibility in staffing when emergencies occurred. 

Both Gromack and Board Member Frank Borelli brought up an independent consultant’s report that said consolidation was a good idea because there was an overstaffing of mechanics. When a resident asked for a written summary of the internal committee’s review, Gromack said the recommendation came from discussions.

The proposed consolidation of the garages would remove the highway mechanics from the supervision of Highway Department Supervisor Wayne Ballard. Community members questioned whether that change would alter Ballard’s job description.

Tom Trevor said separating Ballard from the people who repair his equipment separates him from his responsibility. Marge Hook asked the town board to show how money would be saved.  She said she was contacting state officials to find out if the local law would be legal.

“We have the right to vote,” said Hook. “You do not have the right to remove his responsibilities. I think what’s going on really stinks.” 

Town Attorney Amy Mele said there would not be a referendum.

“It’s our position that if the town board decides to go this way, it will be done in a way that does not require a referendum,” she said.

Ballard brought up a memo he had sent to the board members, which listed 36 concerns about the proposal. He made a recommendation, which he said would accomplish the same goals.

“As an alternate solution to Town Board’s management of this new department, I would like to propose to do the same as noted above but have the fleet manager report to the Highway Superintendent.”

Among his concerns:

How can a Highway Superintendent have the responsibility (powers and duties) of maintaining the roads and needed equipment and be successful without having direct access to the staff needed to keep the equipment well maintained to do those very tasks and be ready to respond to emergency situations?

Who will determine the size of the mechanics staff before during and after a weather event and in between snow storms?

Will the maintenance of the snow plow equipment be included in this consolidation?

Michael Hull of Bardonia brought up the question of oversight.

“The questions seems to be the chain of command under whom those garages will report to,” he said, adding “people in this county believe appointed positions are patronage positions.”

Another resident expressed her thoughts to the board.

“I don’t get it,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

A public hearing on the consolidation is scheduled for Tuesday, June 19.

Chris June 06, 2012 at 12:22 PM
We all know that this is a ploy to get Dennis Malone to be this "Fleet Manager". Frank Borelli is behind all of this and the other puppets on the town board are just playing along with it. Next time the members of the Town Board better come to the table with some hard data on paper. Mr. Ballard presented his side beautifullly and he put the Town Board to shame.
Mike Hirsch June 06, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I was at the meeting last night and thought it was a great example of democracy in action. The town board and the highway superintendent had very candid conversations in front of the public. The public voiced their opinions. Whatever comes of this is up to our elected officials to decide. I see alot more open discussion during these town board workshops than I do at the more formal format of the town board meetings. This is a victory for the open meetings law. I encourage all citizens to attend these workshops and give the town board alot of credit for encouraging this open discussion.
George C June 06, 2012 at 01:02 PM
I want a dollar figure of what this will save the town. If we need another new position for 100k+ that may wipe out the savings. Also, have we looked at outsourcing any of the repair work?
Mike Hirsch June 06, 2012 at 01:16 PM
I think the savings will eventually be over $500,000/yr. The new position will be filled by an existing employee at I think a modest pay increase. From what I have heard, I believe that outsourcing is costing us more money than by doing it in house.
Mary June 06, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Mike: How do you figure the consolidation would save that much?
Mike Hirsch June 06, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Very true. I'm actually starting to feel for our elected officials in this case.
Mike Hirsch June 06, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I think we will save about half in salaries and about half by doing more work in house rather than farming it out because Dennis Malone has a proven track record in both the public and private sectors for doing just that. Wayne Ballard is an excellent superintendent of highways. He is an engineer and takes very good care of our roads and drainage issues. Dennis Malone is a crackerjack mechanic and should be the one (in my opinion) to take care of the vehicles. This has unfortunately become a turf and personalities war, which is just getting in the way of efficient governance. I applaud Alex for standing his ground. This should not be about individual government employees, but rather about efficiency in government.
Tony T June 06, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I will ask again, why is there no electronic posting for jobs on the Clarkstown Personnel Dept web site? Why is the only place you can find jobs for Clarkstown are on posted paper flyers in a corner of Clarkstown Town Hall......?? I will tell you why, because they want to keep the jobs for their friends, cronies, cousins, nephew's and other political hacks of of those in power !!!!
jose June 06, 2012 at 06:52 PM
U can't save clarkstown its a town of greed and corruption,nobody who works for the town cares at all what damage they have done
Mary June 06, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Thank you, Wayne Ballard, for a great presentation and giving us the figures supporting the fact that this consolidation will not save the town any money. The reason we were given for changing the elected position to an appointed position by a referendum was in order to consolidate the garages… http://newcity.patch.com/articles/patch-elections-2011-clarkstown-referendums This referendum, as everyone knows, was voted down. The consolidation of the garages now being considered is nothing more than the town board trying to take get around the elected Superintendant of Highways and give more responsibility and clout to the newly appointed position of Fleet Manager. The Fleet Manager would be appointed by the town board and that would mean another patronage job…it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
EDelargy June 06, 2012 at 10:02 PM
I could see consolidating the police and mini van garages, but not all three! I think the Highway Dept needs it own garage. Consolidating all three with bring up issues of priority.
amy durbin June 07, 2012 at 09:36 AM
According to Ballard, if we dont consolidate we will save $295,000 annually. According to the Town - well they dont have any numbers.
stephany June 08, 2012 at 02:30 AM
The town has 344 vehicles. Town Supervisor Alex Gromack said with the consolidation, savings COULD be realized in the future. “I think there are 13 mechanics,” he said. “IF they’re all under one roof, one umbrella, you COULD PROBABLY downsize.” Just one definitive statement al please if, could, would,might, may.jeez clarkstown roads are a disaster.better than there were but still nasty. fix the roads and you will cut down on maintenance of the cars and trucks that drive them. shocks and struts will last longer as will tires and brakes due to potholes etc. The highway dept takes out half the curbs during plowing . how does that affect the plow blades and the attachment mechanism. i will not mention the affect the patches have on NOISE during plowing. what is the average cost of a public mechanic.Pay, pension and benefits. how many hrs a day do they work compared to outsourced mechs do they include lifetime pension and benefits costs or just pay when comparing actual cost. posted at 10:30 pm 06/07
Tyler Durden June 08, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Democracy in action is two foxes and a hen voting on what to have for dinner.
steve smith December 03, 2012 at 08:22 PM
344 vehicles? that alone should be ringing some bells!

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