A fleet manager position has been created in the Town of Clarkstown, to consolidate and oversee all the town mechanics, but rather than report to the Highway Superintendent, the manager will report to the town board. This led to the Highway Superintendents Association of Rockland County and the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways to file a lawsuit against the town.
Orangetown Highway Superintendent Jim Dean is serving as spokesperson and is one of the plaintiffs in the case, as well as: Clarkstown Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard, former Clarkstown Highway Superintendent John Mauro, and current Superintendents Larry Brissing of Stony Point, Frank Brooks of Haverstraw, and Tony Sharan of Ramapo. The lawsuit was filed in Rockland County Supreme Court on November 14 by Nyack attorney Dennis Lynch.
All of the superintendents from the various towns are banding together on this issue because it violates state law, not just that of the Town of Clarkstown. The highway superintendent is an elected official, unlike the board which is appointed. The superintendent is responsible for answering the needs of the public, while the board does not necessarily always do so.
The problem is not the consolidation of the mechanics, merely the fact that the fleet manager will not report directly to Ballard. By having to go through the board, equipment maintenance is no longer under Ballard’s control and in the event of a snow storm, he may not be able to get the plows when he needs them.
Last year, November 2011, the public specifically voted against a referendum that would change the position of superintendent from elected to appointed. That decision will have been for nothing if the fleet manager continues to report to the board and dodge highway law.
At a meeting of the town board on Tuesday, the public was told that release of a report on the position of fleet manager has been postponed due to the pending lawsuit. The Town had to hire outside counsel for the suit – Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, & Dicker LLP – as the Town Attorney’s office had represented one of the plaintiffs, Ballard, in a previous suit.