Officials still at odds in Broadalbin
BROADALBIN – Town Highway Superintendent Lance Winney said Wednesday he is being micromanaged and not allowed to run his department due to interference from the Town?Board and supervisor.
Winney – who had previous disagreements with members of the board and Supervisor Joseph DiGiacomo – responded to several comments made during a board meeting earlier this month.
During the meeting, members of the board and DiGiacomo said a culvert had collapsed on Union Mills Road due to a lack of maintenance. DiGiacomo said the culvert collapsed because it was never cleaned.
DiGiacomo said before Winney went on vacation, he placed road closed signs on Union Mills Road and never notified anyone about the closure.
At the meeting, the board passed a resolution allowing the Highway Department to rent an excavator at $400 a day to replace the culvert. There is a $2,500 limit on the rental.
“The problem is the board isn’t responding to my requests, and they also don’t want to stick their neck out and say it wasn’t an emergency situation,” Winney said Wednesday.
Winney said he was aware of the problem on Union Mills Road.
“It had been plugging up and the board had sent me a memo, coming from the clerk’s office, stating it was a hazardous condition, and something had to be done about it,” Winney said.
Winney said he inspected the culvert after seeing it had settled 6 to 8 inches into the road.
“I then returned a memo back to the board stating it was an emergency situation, that we need to address it right away,” Winney said.
Winney said the liaison to the Highway Department, Councilman James Wheeler, came out and said it wasn’t an emergency situation.
However, Winney said, Wheeler did not want to sign a memo stating it was not an emergency situation. Winney said without a signed memo, he was liable for anything that occurred there.
Wheeler confirmed he did not sign the memo.
“Of course I wouldn’t sign it, I wouldn’t have any authority to do that,” Wheeler said Friday.
DiGiacomo said because Winney had prior notice about the problems with the culvert, according to state law it did not qualify as an emergency situation.
“By definition, it wasn’t an emergency,” DiGiacomo said.
Winney sent an estimate to repair the culvert, totaling about $23,000, which included the cost of proper equipment, materials, fuel and man hours, including overtime.
Winney said the $2,500 limit given at the meeting was inaccurate because it did not include those costs.
“Just because we have it over there in the yard, we still have to pay for that material, and that’s what [DiGiacomo] isn’t telling the taxpayers,” Winney said.
DiGiacomo said those costs were not included due to them being expended anyway.
Winney was told by the board to get three different estimates from several companies, but said he did not have the time due to a trip he planned to take.
“I just wanted to go ahead and [repair the culvert],” Winney said.
Winney said he closed the road July 6 and notified a Fulton County sheriff’s deputy, who would contact local ambulance and fire departments.
Winney said he is having problems due to DiGiacomo’s micromanaging. Winney said employees of the highway department would not inform him of time they took off.
Winney said the Town Board said there was nothing in the contract that said the employees had to. Winney also said he was left out of the contract negotiations with highway department employees.
“How can I run my department when I have no say in anything they do?” Winney asked.
DiGiacomo said the contract negotiation has always been between the Town Board and the Teamsters Union, not the highway superintendent.
DiGiacomo also said the board follows policies and guidelines set up in the town.
“We, as the board, do not micromanage that department,” DiGiacomo said.
Arthur Cleveland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org