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Councilman questions highway purchase

Rotterdam Town Board
 approves bonding $618k 
for vehicles, equipment

— Town Councilman Robert Godlewski is questioning how the town High Department signed a contract to purchase a new front-end loader tractor for a price in excess of its budget.

The Rotterdam Town Board on Wednesday, Feb. 13, approved resolutions authorizing bonding for vehicle and equipment purchases totaling $618,100, but only one acquisition was debated at length. Godlewski questioned how the Highway Department already signed off on a vehicle purchase proposed to be bonded. Town Attorney Kate McGuirl claimed the department was within its legal rights, but Godlewski wasn’t swayed by her answer.

Godlewski said he didn’t recall any proposals to bond for highway equipment during 2013 budget discussions and expressed concern about funds being available to pay debt service.

He also pointed to an invoice included in the board’s documentation packet relating to the acquisition of a front-end loader for $160,000 that was delivered and signed for about a month ago.

“I have a big concern that an acquisition has been made without this board’s approval,” Godlewski said.

Public Works Commissioner Vince Romano said the vehicle was already purchased, but he didn’t need the board’s approval because state law provides for the highway superintendent to make such a purchase.

“There is exemptions under the highway aw that supersedes the town’s law regarding this policy,” Supervisor Harry Buffardi said.

Recently appointed Councilwoman Nicola DiLeva wondered why Godlewski didn’t bring up his question during the agenda meeting earlier that night. DiLeva proceeded to apologize for Godlewski’s questioning.

“The supervisor gave us all a chance to talk about any one of these (resolutions) and it was never brought up,” DiLeva said.

Highway Superintendent James Longo said after the meeting he knew the bonding purchase for the vehicle was forthcoming and he wouldn’t have authorized the purchase without such knowledge.

Longo said the board had discussed the purchase during budget talks, but Godlewski might not have been privy to the information. Fellow board members have previously excluded Godlewski from talks on various issues, such as the tax agreement reached with General Electric.

The highway budget had allotted around $90,000 for such a purchase, but Longo said the vehicle purchase would exceed what was budgeted.

Deputy Supervisor Wayne Calder was out of town during the Wednesday, Feb. 13, meeting, so without DiLeva appointed to Martin’s seat all three members would need to approve resolutions.

“Between myself and Godlewski and one other board member I don’t think we would get consensus. Government would stall, it would stop,” Buffardi previously said.

Godlewski cast the sole vote against bonding for the purchases.

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