Thu September 19, 2013
County, towns reach new snow plowing agreement
After some tough negotiations, Erie County has come to a new snow plowing agreement with its towns.
The county owns about 1,200 center miles of roads. The towns plow at least half of the center lane mile roads the county owns.
The current contract expired earlier this month, but Wednesday afternoon County Executive Mark Poloncarz and town supervisors announced the two sides have reached a new deal.
"We had another very good negotiating session today, which I joined in, and we were able to hammer out an agreement for three years to ensure that the roads, if the snow flies, people don't have to worry. They will be plowed across all of Erie County," Poloncarz said.
Under the terms of the contract, the towns will receive an annual increase of three percent for each of the three years of the deal to plow the roads.
"Plowing is one of the most and most expensive things each town has to provide each year," said Town of Concord supervisor Gary Eppolito.
Late last month town supervisors had rejected a one percent increase in their current contract.
Fred Piasezki, the Orchard Park highway superintendent, says the towns have had a history working with the county to make sure residents remain safe on the roads.
"Public safety is at the utmost for our town residents, which are county residents. We wanted to get this done to ensure that we're ready in a timely fashion in case, God forbid, we get something in October," Piasezki said.
The agreement needs final approval by the town boards and county Legislature.
The Erie County Legislature’s Minority Caucus said it "is pleased" that the administration and towns reached agreement.
The deal was reached one day after the Legislature’s Economic Development Committee hosted town highway superintendents and supervisors to discuss the issue. They were encourage to resume negotiations resume.
“This contract provides towns with the necessary resources to plow county roads, keeping them clear of snow and ice. At the end of the day, ensuring motorists are safe when traveling on county roads is the number one priority and I believe that this contract achieves that. I want to thank the administration and town representatives for returning to the negotiating table to construct a contract that is in the best interest of taxpayers,” said Minority Leader Mills.
Legislator Edward Rath, the ranking Republican member of the committee, had encouraged the two sides to resume negotiations to finalize a contract before the first snowfall.
“Without the assistance of towns the county would not be able to plow all of its roadways, that is why ratifying this contract was so important. Erie County would have been faced with a major public safety threat and I am thrilled that this crisis has been averted. Now the residents of Erie County can rest assured that our winter roads will be properly cleared and our towns can now prepare for the winter season,” said Legislator Rath.