Heenan questions city on equipment purchase

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward Third Ward Councilman Shaun Heenan questions City Attorney Richard Morrisroe about the city’s newly acquired weed harvester.

The city of Dunkirk is now the proud owners of a weed harvester which they purchased in an 80/20 split with marina owner Charles Pringle. This bit of news didn’t sit well with Third Ward Councilman Shaun Heenan when it was announced at the Finance Committee meeting last month and he brought up his concerns at Dunkirk’s Common Council meeting Monday.

“At the last finance meeting it was stated that an 80/20 partnership was struck with the marina and Mr. Pringle for a weed harvester,” Heenan began. “I’m sure there was some kind of agreement made with that. Why didn’t this contract, this agreement go through city council?”

“There was no formal contract that I was aware of,” City Attorney Richard Morrisroe offered. “I believe it was just done as an equipment purchase, which is just a standard operating thing. There was nothing that came through my office, I didn’t review any contracts on that issue.”

This response did not sit well with Heenan, who’s concerns included, maintenance, insurance costs and the lack of city trained individuals that can operate the machine.

“What do we do moving forward with this? With insurance? We own 80% and the marina owns 20%,” Heenan said. “Does that mean the city is only 80% responsible?”

Morrisroe responded to Heenan stating that ratios don’t have anything to do with the insurance coverage, that essentially, the machine would fall under both policies if an incident were to occur.

“I guess my other problem is having someone other than a city employee using the equipment we own 80% of,” Heenan went on. “I was told that we don’t have anyone trained for it.”

“All of our leases have the indemnification claus, which essentially states that whether it’s the lessor or the lessee, if their employess or agents of are negligent in any way, then the burden falls on them,” Morrisroe responded. Morris roe then went on to give an analogy, saying that the situation is similar to when the city and the county do shared service agreements on certain public works projects. In those situations there is shared equipment and employees and insurance policies for both agencies then become responsible in the event of a issue.

“I’d like to look into it further,” Heenan ended. “There needs to be some kind of maintenance agreement and there needs to be some kind of contract.”

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