City Councilman wants more help in winter

The saying goes, “You have to spend money to make money,” but can you hire for more efficiency?

Dunkirk First Ward Councilman Don Williams Jr. believes that is the case. He brought several ideas to the Department of Public Works Committee recently to plan for better performance in winters to come.

“We get a lot of seasonal help for the summer, but we need more help in the winter,” Williams said. “And next year I think we need to hire more full-time.”

This winter has been one for waves of severe storms, which for Williams have illuminated staffing issues in the department.

“I’ve said it before, sometimes to be more effective you need to add staff. I think if there are inefficiencies in the department it’s because we don’t have enough staff,” he added.

The city is able to make one pass through a ward in about six hours. Because of this, Williams said the city is holding back its plow drivers at the beginning of a storm to avoid overtime, but in the end it’s hurting the city.

“I’m not a fan of big government, but I’m a fan of big enough government to get the job done. In the streets department we need to be more effective and I will push for (more staff) at budget time. I’m trying to plan ahead and mention it now, so it won’t be a surprise when I bring it up during budget discussions,” Williams said.

In addition, Williams asked DPW Director Randy Woodbury about the city’s contract with the state Department of Transportation to plow state Routes 5 and 60.

Woodbury said he attended a conference and heard complaints from other cities with similar arrangements that the reimbursements have not been updated since the ’80s.

Williams argued that if the city is not plowing Routes 5 and 60, then maybe drivers could plow city streets quicker. Woodbury said he would speak with Fiscal Affairs Officer Marsha Beach to go over the reimbursement to weigh the fiscal pros and cons of breaking the arrangement.