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Posted on August 3, 2015 at 12:45 PM by PattiAnn Schultz
After meeting with all fourteen Department Heads that we have working on the 2016 Town of Webster Town budget, I am totally impressed with their knowledge and dedication in keeping taxes stable while maintaining the integrity of their department.
We have critical issues in a few departments that need to spend more money than in years past. In the area of public safety, the Police Department needs to hire more officers and we need to continue training and upgrading their equipment. Since former Chief Pickering left in January, we have had a difficult time finding lateral transfers to come to the Webster Police Department because our department’s standards are high. For many reasons that I will not go in to here, we need to send more young officers to the police academy that is starting next year. This does cost extra money in our budget for wages, health care costs, pension costs, and equipment while they train. They will have six months at the police academy followed by at least six weeks of field training before they are allowed to be in a police car by themselves. The Town Board completely believes in training for our officers on an on-going basis and we want to do more of that in 2016.
Updated police equipment is another crucial part of the Webster Police Department. As more and more equipment is needed in police cruisers, the usual standard patrol car is just too small to handle all of the equipment needed. This is especially the case when the rear spare tire is part of the safety feature of the car which then cuts down on trunk space. So we have to now move to the much larger SUV that will accommodate the extra equipment and the extra computer equipment needed which raises the price of the vehicles greatly.
In the Highway Department we are facing some real challenges this year and in the coming years looking forward to 2017 and 2018. Equipment, which the Town of Webster has prided itself on maintaining in years past, is just getting old and needs to be replaced. This replacement is at much higher prices than in the past. EPA regulations, cost of steel and the cost of tires have made prices for new trucks, bulldozers, sweepers, and backhoes come in at hundreds of thousands of dollars more for today’s investments in equipment.
For example: the town has three sweepers that travel our roads every single day sweeping our roads from mid April to November that are getting old fast. One is a 1992, another is a 1998, and the last is a 2003. The 1998 model we just replaced the hopper to the cost of $46,000. The 1992 sweeper needs to be replaced now at a cost of over $200,000. The other two should be replaced, one per year, over the next two years.
We have nine leaf machines out during leaf season that cost $19,400 each in 2013. Now in 2016 because of EPA regulations, and the price of steel these same machines cost $36,206 and a couple of them are over twelve years old and need replacement. Now there are some who would say cut the leaf program, but let’s be real, if we did not pick up the leaves the town would have serious problems with leaves blocking drainage grates and then we would have flooding issues.
The 1994 bulldozer, which is over 21 years old, had $14,000 of repairs recently and needs to be replaced to the tune of $140,000. The two backhoes, which are 2004 and 2011 models, were $46,000 each and are now $85,000 each to replace them.
We currently have 17 of the large plow trucks plowing snow in Webster during the winter. The oldest is a 2000 model and we replace one each year at a cost of $220,000 with a new plow. We must continue to purchase a new one every year because getting behind would mean expending $440,000 the next year just to continue to maintain our fleet. This past winter, one of the worst in years, it would have been nice to have five extra plow trucks because of the time it took to plow this past year’s heavy snow and the amount we got, but we are not advocating that.
On that note, we have already spent most of our entire snow plowing budget of one million one hundred dollars and we still have November and December to go in this calendar year. That gives us only $4,387.00 left in that budget line at this time. Let’s hope for no snow until January or we will have a deficit for our 2015 budget for snow plowing.
The State never tells you how much these programs cost in sending out these rebate checks or how much it costs the Governor’s office or Comptroller’s office to update and review the auditing. They do not add in the time it takes the town to complete this mandate for the two additional steps each year to provide the state this information.
These are only a few examples of the problems we are having with the 2016 Budget within just two of our fourteen departments here at Town Hall. While New York State promotes the Tax Cap and Tax Freeze programs, they have never asked local officials how this would impact the quality of services that your Town Board can provide to you, our taxpaying residents. The State has never asked at what cost to local services issuing a rebate check (which, again, is your own money being returned to you) was going to have long-term on our equipment and overall well being of the Webster community.
If you have any questions about your town government, please feel free to contact me during regular business hours at (585) 872-7068; or email me anytime at email@example.com
Ronald W. Nesbitt