’18 year in review for town
My prior “Year in Review” received numerous forms of positive feedback about transparency on my opinions informing the public of what’s going on with your tax dollars. With no surprises, the “word” of local officials has not been so “open” as you were informed or witnessed at meetings.
1. The town entered into a second mowing contract with the county for approximately $14,000. The contract identified two mowing’s, but the town performed three mowing’s, breaching the contract placing the town at risk, while wasting tax dollars on unauthorized work that rightfully should be compensated.
2. The public was informed that no truck purchases for the Highway Department would be identified — at minimum two years — due to a depleted fund balance and over spending from the prior administration, starting point January 2018. At December’s meeting, it was raised that a new dump truck/plow vehicle was on the table with specifications and bids received or prepared, completely against what the public was informed. I petitioned for financial assistance to the state for two fleet trucks while explaining the town’s financial situation, also, supported by the need of our local fire departments that requested increased contracts aiding fire trucks, equipment, or building improvements. This action goes against such considerations. .
3. The town hired four employees in 2018 and only two of the positions were posted in the town’s official newspaper — two at Town Hall and two at the Highway Department. The town claims to be an “Equal Opportunity Employer” while using tax dollars for payroll.
4. Aspen Hills Water District “leak charge” is not settled, though the residents have been on top of their game. The answer to the question seems to be written in the city of Johnstown’s Mission Statement posted on their web pages. “…primary mission is to plan for, operate, and maintain both the infrastructure and the organization necessary to offer high quality drinking water in conjunction with providing an adequate and reliable water supply for all household, commercial, and community needs.” Clearly, it identifies that the city of Johnstown shall maintain the water system supported by law which would negate the “leak charge” forced on the residents of Aspen Hills from a leaking valve. The board believes it cannot help the residents, but I believe that the contract which the town holds with the city was breached based on the term “maintenance” covered. I have raised this issue to the comptroller and hopefully it will be addressed. I support the residents on this issue and believe the Johnstown Water Board understands that this “leak charge” is inappropriate.
5. Highway superintendent position should be considered as “appointed” not “elected.” The current process allows for an inexperienced individual to run for office and obtain approximately a $60,000 job, truck, and health insurance. Provisions should be implemented reducing such risk. It was proposed to eliminate the elected position and transfer the title to the two most senior highway personnel — making two pods — who have earned their keep. As people retired, promotions would be transferred upon seniority, experience, ability, giving equal opportunity, while learning from each other internally. An increase in salary would be provided upon the new responsibility and a construction manager would take control of management with the superintendents controlling the field duties reporting to each other as a team. Consideration in sharing a full time manger with another township could be an option. The superintendents and manager would be available for the public, increasing communications while being responsible for daily reports logging production, attendance, hours, and concerns identified in the field and forecasting. Such direction would help improve the town’s forecast where currently no documents have been posted about its future giving detail to a five year plan. Such a system would also improve checks and balances. The board rejected the consideration but never proposed an option or proper evaluation but seems to have a predetermined path. Additionally, the County’s Shared Services identifies a section for consolidation of highways. The board elaborated this would not happen but was an obligation by the county to include within the report. I question, why internal restructuring is not of value, under the town’s control.
6. Hales Mills has been dropped by the side since the artificial approval of the DEIS with zoning changes. The board’s primary interest should be the Hales Mills Road improvement (road, utilities, engineering, easement…etc). No contracts or land purchases have been authorized, yet continual investments are being made at the County level with limited involvement with the board. The town should concentrate on the road improvement which would promote future development — enhancing a developer’s consideration.
7. Recently, the issue of paid lunches was identified at Town Hall while the Highway Department does not receive paid lunches. Town Hall should be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a half hour unpaid lunch. Town Hall is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a paid lunch. The supervisor explained it was not an issue and the county Personnel Department — backed it up. I suggest the county change its current policies and pay their employees for paid lunches — if they feel it is not an issue — against labor law that clearly identifies a separation from work via unpaid lunch between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for such a service that are not related to fire, safety, or process.
The “Town Hall Upgrade” is underway and I encourage local contractors to join the BID process for the solar, mechanical, electrical, general contracting, and IT which will be completed in early spring, see town web pages for BID. Around September 2018, it was mentioned to roll up your sleeves and do some good for the town. Well, I surely have done some large forms of good for the town and wish to continue assisting in improvements reducing taxes with a plan.
Restructuring internally is required. I suggest people of management engage in this election throwing out the long standing “good old boys” electing, true, honest, and hardworking officials for the town’s interest — not personal interest. Do you wish to continue this cycle? “Take back your town — 2019!”
Johnstown Town Councilman