Port Henry Moriah officials will debate the merits of a town department of public works during 2014.
The community now has separate highway, water, sewer, buildings and grounds departments.
“We have to find ways to reduce costs and do away with redundancies in the town,” Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “Maybe it’s time we go to a DPW.
“It’s been discussed before, but we’ve never proceeded with it,” he said. “It’s time to take another look. The bottom line is that our buildings and grounds, water and sewer and highway departments all work together anyway. Why not make them into one department?”
Scozzafava said it’s common for Moriah’s various departments to assist each other.
“When one department’s short-handed another department helps out,” he said. “We’ve always worked together and never had any problem.”
The supervisor said Moriah has two options to create a DPW. It can pursue a DPW with an appointed chief, abolishing the elected position of highway superintendent. That would have to be approved by voters in a public referendum. Or the town board can vote to create a DPW while keeping the elected highway superintendent, appointing a DPW head — presumably the highway superintendent.
“We would appoint someone already on the town payroll,” Scozzafava said. “We would not create a new position.
“I am not in favor, and I don’t believe the town board is in favor, of abolishing any elected position,” he said. “People need to have a say in who holds that position. It shouldn’t come down to three people (a town board majority).”
Jamie Wilson is the Moriah highway superintendent. Scozzafava expressed confidence Wilson would make an excellent DPW head.
The supervisor said no jobs would be eliminated in a merger of town departments, although some positions would be cut through attrition.
“That’s already happening,” Scozzafava said. “When an employee leaves we generally don’t replace them.”
Consolidating departments could save taxpayers money, Scozzafava said, and give the town greater flexibility in assigning work.
“The goal is to consolidate our services into a single department,” the supervisor said. “That will allow for a better utilization of employees, better planning and more consistent policies.”