Right from the get-go, Councilman William Hart took exception to one item on the payment of bills. At the beginning of the agenda during the Town of Pomfret regular board meeting Wednesday, Hart revealed his displeasure with the purchase of a new 2011 Ford 150 XLT pick-up truck.
In January, Highway Superintendent Jim Oakes came to the board about going ahead with the purchase of the vehicle, which had been budgeted for, in the amount of $25,462. The board unanimously approved the purchase.
When councilman Hart reviewed the specs on the truck however he felt it was too much of a luxury truck at taxpayers expense.
OBSERVER Photo by Michael Rukavina
Pomfret Town Councilman William Hart gave a resounding “absolutely no” when it came time to approve the payment of the bills during Wednesday’s regular town board meeting.
"Chrome wheels, color-coordinated carpet, CD players and all this other fancy stuff on a truck and it's not going to make the job any easier, it's beyond me," Hart said. "It's two models over the standard truck and therefore I can not and will not, and I want this as part of the record, I can not in clear conscious vote to buy a luxury pick-up truck when we don't need it."
Councilman Chuck Civiletto asked Hart how much the difference was the in price between the truck Hart thinks the town should purchase and the one that is being purchase.
"Between $3,000 and $5,000. Even if it's only $3,000 wouldn't it be worth saving?" Hart said. "We're spending taxpayers money here, buying a truck that you can not deny is a luxury model versus a standard model."
Civiletto said he was under the understanding that the town bought the truck they bought so that when they sell it they'll get more for the truck.
"We did go with a plan of purchasing not the plain Jane one's. While we previously had ran them until they ran into the ground, and they were worth nothing, we initially started this plan with the thought in mind of rotating them out," Supervisor Don Steger said. "Last time we went to replace a truck and we put it out to bid we got $2,000 more than what the dealer was offering us as a trade-in on it. I'm still of the thought that the more bells and whistles it has on it the more it's going to be worth when we finally turn around and let it go."
The rest of the council seemed to agree with the philosophy. Oakes explained that in essence the town pays $1,500 a year to have a new truck on the road, once the initial purchase is made.
"The main reason to do this is we were in a mode of trading every two years and for every two years it was costing us $3,000 to trade up two years when you had an XLT truck, which in essence costs us $1,500 a year to own the truck. You had a truck that was on warranty all of the time, you never had to buy tires, all you had to do was put gas in it and change the oil, we never had any problems that way and it went on for quite a few years," Oakes explained. "The last truck we got was an XL, the lower priced truck. I went to trade it in and they wanted almost $8,000 to trade it in so we kept it and we've had it for four years now. The reason you don't get the proper trade-in is because they don't want a truck for trade-in that doesn't have the extras on it and that's because it brings good money on the used car lot."
Hart argued the town should have purchased the XL truck instead and was upset he had to ask Oakes for the truck specs. When it came time to approve the payment of bills, Hart exclaimed with an "absolutely, no." A town resident in attendance also shared his discontent for the truck purchase and was upset about the specs.
In related news, Hart issued a statement for the record that reiterated a previous statement he made during the April board meeting.
"I brought up an issue asking the Highway Superintendent to take a good hard look to see if we needed to fill both vacancies in his department," Hart stated. "I truly feel this is a reasonable and legitimate request. If we can do away with filling only one of the two positions we will save many thousands of dollars over the long term."
Oakes said one of the positions has already been filled. Councilman Chuck Civiletto and Rod Pennica disagreed with Hart's remarks. The highway department had been two men down for the majority of the past winter due to the recent retirements.
"I had this conversation with Jim before the two guys retired and he told me he was going to see how it worked for an undetermined number of months to run the department minus those two guys," Pennica said. "I consider that an effort in exactly what you're asking for. Whatever you expect from him in terms of proof I'm sure would never be, I can't imagine what that would be. But when he told me he couldn't see being able to continue that way it was good enough for me."
In other news:
The town has paid the village of Fredonia approximately $18,000, its share for the engineering review of their engineering for the north end water district project.
The town approved to participate in the Fourth of July celebration with the City of Dunkirk by way of a $500 contribution towards the $30,000 firework display.
Oakes informed the board that County Legislator John Runkle was requested by residents on and near Frisbee Road to seek a speed reduction from 45 to 35 mph. Oakes told the board he instructed them to start a petition while the town submitted an application to the county for review of the request.
The board approved a $100,000 bond to be used towards a $144,000 purchase of a 2012 Kenworth cab and chase with plow equipment.
A rabies clinic will be held at the Town Barns on Saturday, June 4.
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