Tonight the Rockland County Legislature will revisit a bus wash resolution passed in August that proposed daily washes of TOR busses at a rate of $45 per wash, potentially costing the county hundreds of thousands per year. The exact expenses are undetermined, but according to the math put forward, washing busses daily at $45 per wash could cost $900,000 annually, minus $300,000 in expected federal reimbursement.
Ed Day vetoed the measure as a waste of taxpayer monies and particularly lambasted the legislature for justifying the expense as a safety response following a February bus fire in Pearl River. If a few days worth of dirtiness caused vehicular fires, there would be a lot of burning cars on the road, Day has pointed out. Public opinion has been swelling in favor of Day’s veto.
Additional information released about the bus fire since the early August vote indicates an odor was emanating from the right rear wheel well prior to the fire. A driver had made a report to dispatch, who instructed the driver to continue the route.
Political ramifications of the vote go beyond tax dollars. The county’s bus contractor Brega Transportation Corp., has close a relationship with many legislators and is a frequent contributor to political campaigns. Valley Cottage-based Brega had won their bid for a 5-year bus contract with county only after a long legal battle with former County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef. The County Legislature stood firmly behind Brega at the time.
Day has further alleged that a bill put forward by legislators Alden Wolfe, Aron Weider and Ilan Schoenberger to lay off administrators responsible for overseeing the terms of the Brega contract is a retaliation against him for vetoing the bus wash bill.
In order to override Day’s veto the Legislature must muster 12 of 17 legislators in support of the bus wash expense. Supporters of the increased bus wash regimen have said it will not cost as much as critics suggest.