From elected to appointed

VILLENOVA – Officials in Villenova are considering making the highway superintendent an appointed position instead of an elected one.

The Town of Villenova held a public hearing on Local Law No.2-2014, the abolishment of the elective office of the town highway superintendent and creating the appointive office of the position.

The local law would be subject to a mandatory referendum by the electors of the Town of Villenova at the next general town election, which is set to be held in November 2014. If the law is approved by the electors, the proposed local law would take effect upon the filing with the Office of the New York Secretary of State.

Town attorney Donald Michalak went into detail about the application process of the local law, and noted that the way it’s now done is easier and more intelligent.

“I can’t see it tonight meaning that it’s in effect,” Michalak said. “There’s a (State Environmental Quality Review) chart assessment which Town Superintendent Yvonne Park filled out. What the applicant does is fill in what the project is, and one of the nice things they did was ask if this proposal only involves a local law ordinance. If the answer is yes, then the middle portion of the form gets skipped. If you answer yes, then you’re passing a local law.”

The next step in considering Local Law No.2-2014 is a whole list where the board has to consider whether there’s any potential moderate or large environmental impact from doing it, and according to the Michalak, the consensus would be that there’s no environmental impact from going to an appointed office.

The first resolution then would be that the SEQR resolution stating that upon reviewing the environmental assessment form and the State Environmental Quality Review Act, the determination that if local law No. 2-2014 will not have a significant environmental impact, a negative declaration can be made.

“It’s up to the voters whether or not they vote yes or no,” Park said.

One of the topics brought up for discussion among the board was the number of towns that have adopted the local law to create the appointive office of the town highway superintendent. Of the 900 towns in the state, 20 percent have gone to an appointed position. Councilman Joseph Goodway discussed some of the impacts on the potential change.

“If you have been watching the news the last two years, look at the problems that were created by superintendents who had the position who were being paid,” Goodway said. They weren’t going to work and may show up five minutes to go home, and they’re still getting paid. The deputy superintendent is doing all the work and the superintendent is getting paid for nothing.”

Councilman Don Chase expressed his concern over the fact that if the highway superintendent is appointed instead of elected, less people will want the position because of the potential turnover rate of a new superintendent if a new board comes in.

“Maybe they will bring their new highway supervisor with them, and therefore it won’t be as secure,” Chase said. “If someone runs for the position and they have a real good turnout, with a lot of people supporting them, that’s something that they can work toward their future. You don’t want to get 10 to 12 years and have a new board come in and boot you out and lose retirement.”

If the local law passes and is approved by the electors, it would go into effect on January 1, 2016, according to Park.

“It’s something that we’re going to have to look into,” Park said.

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