By JAIME STUDD
Recorder News Staff
JOHNSTOWN -- On Tuesday, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors voted to officially rescind authorization to contract with the town of Broadalbin for snow and ice removal on county roads for the coming winter.
Though the measure is expected to save the county between $30,000 and $40,000, the resolution cites a letter written by Broadalbin Highway Superintendent Lance Winney to Fulton County Superintendent Mark Yost in which he expressed "concerns about the town highway department's ability to properly maintain plowing and winter maintenance on county roads" as one of the primary reasons behind the move.
The resolution also notes that Yost has already drafted a plan to revise the county's already established routes in order to cover the approximately 15 miles of additional roadway, nearly 14 and half in the town of Broadalbin an just under a mile in the town of Perth.
Prior to the vote, in which only Broadalbin Town Supervisor Joe DiGiacomo and Perth Town Supervisor Greg Fagan voted "no," Bleecker town Supervisor Dave Howard requested to hear from both Fagan and DiGiacomo on the matter.
"I'm still opposed," Fagan said.
"The bottom line is only the highway superintendent has the authority to call them out when it snows," DiGiacomo said, adding that he believed that to be Yost's main concern.
"I understand both sides of the argument," DiGiacomo said. "I wish I could tell you different, that it'd be done if we had it, but I can't."
Though several of his fellow supervisors publicly sympathized with DiGiacomo and the fiscal implications that the loss of the approximately $76,000 contract will have on the town's budget, others cited both safety and fiscal concerns as the primary argument in favor of backing Yost's decision.
"It's a safety condition for the people," said Gloversville Ward 2 Supervisor Frank Lauria.
DiGiacomo said that he understood the safety concerns, but argued that the town should have at least been given the opportunity to fulfill a contract the town has held for decades.
"In the contract, there's a provision for Mark to take it back and back charge the town," DiGiacomo said.
Gloversville Ward 5 Supervisor Michael Ponticello applauded Yost's fiscal initiative.
"Seeing a $30,000 to $40,000 savings to the county, I think that's the way to go," Ponticello said.
"It just makes good sense for the county," agreed Johnstown Ward 2 Supervisor G. Michael Kinowski, noting that he believed the county should further explore similar efforts, including consolidation of services.
Northampton town Supervisor Linda Kemper expressed concern about the length of time it would take county crews to address some of the less traveled roads in a particular town if that were the direction the county eventually took with similar municipal contracts.
"My concern is many times the town roads are done much quicker than by the time the county comes around," Kemper said.
In response to a question posed by Kemper, Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael F. Gendron said the contract is revisited on a yearly basis and the matter could be looked at once again next winter.
"I think all the options will be revisited at that point," DiGiacomo said.