Voters to decide fate of town’s top highway position

The Town Board of Dunkirk has approved placing on the upcoming election ballot the choice of electing or appointing the highway superintendent.

A public hearing was held in the town hall Tuesday night to allow residents to give their thoughts on this matter.

Residents Beverly Bennett and William Jakubowski wanted to know more about the reasoning behind this change.

Supervisor Richard Purol addressed the questions.

“There has been a lot of complaints about the highway department. If we don’t need to elect someone, we can appoint someone with knowledge,” he said. “Right now the highway superintendent makes a little over $10,000 for just over part-time. He (Richard Butts) would have three more years on his term.”

Jakubowski added if these complaints aren’t in writing then they don’t exist.

Town Clerk Jean Crane noted she gets several complaints a day about the highway superintendent.

“The roads are all deteriorating and he is not fixing them,” she said. “He is not fixing lawns. Residents can never reach him.”

Crane added there is $90,000 of unused funds for the roads he has not fixed in his more than four years as highway superintendent.

If this referendum receives a majority vote during November’s election, the town will have the right to appoint a new highway superintendent by Jan. 1, 2015. The law further states Butts would no longer be the highway superintendent, and his second term would end three years early. If voters choose to keep the right to elect a highway superintendent Butts would finish out his four-year term.

“He doesn’t respond to the needs of the people,” Crane said. “We have seven miles of road that he isn’t doing anything with. There is nothing we can do about it. This winter he widened the road 10 feet by misusing the plow trucks. No one is happy with him. Every year he says he will do something when the weather is good and he never does.”

Resident Glenn Baron added Butts was elected to the highway superintendent position by one vote.

“People should have the right to vote,” he said. “I don’t want to give the government any more power. I don’t like taking that away from the people. At least we can get rid of this guy in three years and get a new one.”

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