Yorktown supervisor Michael Grace on the department of public works (DPW) issue. He said he was opposed to creating an appointed DPW commissioner and called it "imprudent" to place a referendum on the November ballot.
In response to his statements, the grassroots organization proposing the change, which has argued its proposed structural change could save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, issued a statement. They said his 10-page analysis was misguided and it contained errors.
(Read the original article titled "Yorktown Supervisor Grace: DPW Will Not Save Money" as well as Grace's entire analysis .)
You can read the entire statement provided by the Yorktown Citizens for a DPW below:
Supervisor Grace’s analysis of the proposed DPW referendum is misguided and contains numerous errors of fact.
Yorktown Citizens for a DPW is, and has been, asking that voters be given an opportunity to vote on the concept of a DPW, not a finished, set in stone, DPW organizational plan.
As , we are, and have always been, presenting the DPW as an organizational framework for the future that would enable the Town to deliver services more efficiently and save taxpayer dollars.
Regrettably, Supervisor Grace was not able to distinguish a concept plan from a full blown plan ready to be implemented tomorrow.
The committee never envisioned its role to be designing a DPW structure. That is the Town Board’s responsibility. But, when the Board asked us to come up with a plan of what a DPW would look like and how much money it would save, we did so, presenting two possible DPW scenarios—conceptual organizations only, definitely not a “plug and play” plan. We emphasized over and over again that if the referendum passed, the Board would have a full year to sit down with department heads, other employees and the public to work out the details of how the new department could be organized. If the voters approved the concept of a DPW by referendum, the Town Board would be in charge of designing a DPW structure that would best suit Yorktown.
Nevertheless, Mr. Grace persists in focusing on these two conceptual plans as if they were engraved in stone, meanwhile losing sight of the savings and efficiencies a DPW could offer Yorktown. And of course, once the board rejected the committee’s concept plan, the savings associated with the plan fell by the wayside. This doesn’t mean that a DPW wouldn’t save money; it only means that this specific plan might not be a good fit for Yorktown.
In fact, , and at a TV taping on August 3, Supervisor Grace said that he would consider a DPW IF it included the engineering function. That’s exactly what we have been saying all along; it’s up to the Town Board to design a DPW, not a citizen’s committee. Our function was to put the issue on the table and bring the concept to a referendum vote. Whether or not an engineering function is included in a DPW is an issue for the Board to decide; not the public in a referendum.
Supervisor Grace’s comment that a DPW would cost more money, citing the need to hire a deputy commissioner and “several” additional engineers has no basis in fact unless the Town Board’s DPW design calls for the additional hires. Once again, that would be the Board’s choice. If the supervisor has an alternate DPW structure in mind that requires this additional staff, he certainly hasn’t made it public. His comments also beg the question of why any town would want to create a DPW. Is Supervisor Grace suggesting that dozens of towns, cities and villages throughout New York State have lost money by switching to a DPW?
Mr. Grace’s statements about an appointed versus an elected highway superintendent also need to be addressed. The Committee made it clear, from the very beginning, that its focus was on improving efficiency and saving money and not personalities. Sadly, Supervisor Grace found it necessary in his analysis to bring up the personality issue. His comments were an insult to the two former supervisors he cited by name, as well as the other six members of the committee who devoted their time and energy on an issue that they believed would have a positive impact on their community.
As the Committee explained –on many occasions – our position was that the DPW should be headed by a person with professional skills and experience. For that reason, we recommended the elimination of the elected highway superintendent position because the only qualification to be highway superintendent is to be a resident of the Town of Yorktown. Even Supervisor Grace seemed to agree that a DPW should be headed by a professional.
It should also be pointed out that the committee never considered changing the highway superintendent from an elected to appointed position, because that change, by itself, would not create a DPW, and creating a DPW was, and continues to be the committee’s goal.
There are many other specific points in Supervisor’s Grace analysis that warrant a response either as misstatements, misconceptions, or opinions as opposed to fact. As always, the committee is asking for an open, thoughtful debate on the issue of a DPW for Yorktown. So far Mr. Grace has had his say. Now the voters should have the opportunity to give their input at a public hearing.
A DPW isn’t as complicated as the supervisor makes it out to be. Saving money by consolidation is common sense.