By JOHN BORGOLINI
BROADALBIN - The ongoing problems between town Highway Superintendent Lance Winney and his workers again were a key topic at a Town Board meeting.
The board members voted Tuesday night to bring in a mediator to oversee the issue an hour before the Nov. 13 meeting. The board voted for a $500 spending limit for the mediator, Gerald Fabiano of Johnstown, and town Attorney Kara Lais to attend the meeting with Winney and Supervisor Joe DiGiacomo.
Winney walked out of last month's meeting, and did not attend the meeting Tuesday.
"We've got to find some answers someplace," Councilman James Wheeler said. "It's just too bad we have to pay for it. I'm very much in favor of it, because sometimes you need another ear to [hear an issue]."
The vote also came at the end of a meeting where many of Winney's spending practices were questioned by DiGiacomo and other town officials.
Town residents in attendance brought into question if Winney had asked permission for recent crack sealing he was performing on town roads, and DiGiacomo said Winney never sought permission for the work that costs $20,000.
DiGiacomo also noted that Winney needs to present three written quotes to the board for anything costing more than $1,000.
There to defend Winney was Councilwoman Tina Winney, the highway superintendent's wife.
Councilwoman Winney brought up several issues, including the highway superintendent's request for money to be transfered from another fund to pay for part-time workers as he had already used his summer budget for the part-time help.
DiGiacomo said he never received a formal request and told Lance he had to stay on budget.
"It's funny how you recall some things, and you don't recall others," Tina Winney said. "You don't do everything by the book, either."
The board also addressed Lance Winney's request to lay off one full-time worker and hire more part-time help. The board denied the request, and DiGiacomo said it wasn't even possible. He said part-time workers can't be brought in to replace full-time workers.
The supervisor further addressed the issue, discussing the number of highway department workers in each town of Fulton County.
"I don't see any three-worker departments, even with less miles," he said. " ... I can tell you the budget request I got is with four-full time employees, and the budget I proposed has four full-time employees."
Lance Winney said this morning he is pleased there will be mediation to resolve these issues, as he was the one who suggested it.
"I think it's a good thing. I think there's a lack of communication between me, the workers and the board," he said.