Highway dept. hitting the road?

Dunkirk Town Board discusses possibility of consolidation

Sometimes the signs all point in one direction, at least that’s how one Dunkirk town councilman is reading them.

At the recent town board meeting, the resignation of Anthony Pulci as highway superintendent on Sept. 30 was accepted. Supervisor Richard Purol said they are looking for a replacement.

Councilman Henry Walldorff presented his findings on the cost to replace the broken tractor the town uses for roadside mowing.

“In the highway department we had a sidebar brush chopper on a tractor and the tractor is no longer operable. It was suggested that we might get a side chopper to go on the backhoe. I investigated it and it’s really not feasible at all,” he said.

He reported the cost of the flail mower, a hydraulic circuit with installation and a bracket for the town’s backhoe will cost around $19,500. However, that’s not the unfeasible part, as Purol noted this is cheaper than replacing the tractor at an estimated $100,000.

“The manufacturer of the mower did not recommend it. They said if you’re moving it in back of the thing that would be all right or you could use it on the side if you put the stabilizer down, but that’s not what you want to do, you want to move along,” he said.

It was noted the stabilizer will make it impossible to mow over a guardrail. Walldorff said he found a flail mower on municipal bid for even cheaper, but the safety and functionality concerns remain. He advocated for a different solution.

“I think we need to really seriously consider about whether we need to run a highway department or not. For seven miles (of road) and what’s in our budget, we really need to sit down and talk with Sheridan and Pomfret and see can if we do something,” he said.

Purol agreed, saying it has been considered since the town changed its highway superintendent position from elected to appointed. However, there are some challenges.

“One thing we haven’t figured out though is what do we do with the water and sewer,” he said.

It was suggested the town could contract with other agencies like the North Chautauqua Water District and Portland Pomfret Dunkirk Sewer District to handle water and sewer maintenance.

“We don’t need a highway department to take care of Stegelske Water District and the sewers over on the East Town. We’ve got to find a better way to do it,” Walldorff said.

Councilman Dr. G. Jay Bishop added, “There has to be a way to outsource that.”

Purol agreed, but pointed to a time crunch connected with the budget.

“It’s not going to happen overnight. When this thing with the highway superintendent happened, that’s the first thing we thought about. But now we can’t meet with them before budget time for this year. We can start in after the election and work on it. It’s a good winter project for us,” he said.

It was agreed there would be no equipment purchased in the immediate future. Shared services will be relied upon for mowing until plans have been worked out.

The Dunkirk Town Board will meet on Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m.