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Dressing up a poor plan for county’s DPW Sherman shop

March 20, 2013
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

A bikini on an orangutan.

That is what the recent flip-flop of not closing the county's Department of Public Facilities in Sherman amounts to in the big picture for Chautauqua County taxpayers. No matter how it is dressed up by leaders, it is a bad deal.

But don't tell that to County Executive Greg Edwards, who has made this proposal into a fantasy efficiency plan. His spin is that keeping the Sherman facility open is some sort of major consolidation breakthrough because the town and village of Sherman will "work together" to share a facility and efficiencies.

Reality check: there will be no cash savings if three entities remain and continue to compete over maintaining and plowing already sparsely traveled roads in the south county.

But what does save money, according to officials last November, was closing the facility - about $250,000 worth. The reductions would have come from eliminating the district supervisor position, having year-round mechanics reassigned to the Falconer or Sheridan shops, and having 17 members of the Sherman road crew report to Falconer or Sheridan during the construction season. The proposal was announced following the retirement of a district supervisor.

"You have the individual's salary, you have the benefits which is approximately 70 percent of his salary," said George Spanos, county Department of Public Facilities supervisor. "That individual does take a car home, so you have to include the capital investment of a vehicle, usage and maintenance."

But once the closure proposal became public, a small segment of people in the south county became upset.

How did a county government that needs to cut spending - led by Republican Edwards - respond when it found out it had upset the Republican-heavy town and village of Sherman? It did what many municipal governments and political parties do. It made excuses to keep spending and, ultimately, keep the facility open.

"As we pursue this study, it is important that we all work together to ensure that each highway department receives the attention it deserves," Sherman town Supervisor Mark Persons said. "By keeping all of these services in Sherman it will continue to support our local economy."

Persons' comments are a microcosm of what's wrong with government leaders in Western New York. He is praising three different highway departments serving a municipality of 1,600 residents.

That's two too many for the size of Sherman's "local economy."



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