Let’s add the name of the highway superintendent of the Town of Ticonderoga to the government consolidation hero’s list. Well, we don’t have to use his actual name. Let’s just point out why he makes such a strong argument for eliminating Towns like his.
Here are the fact’s as discovered by the State Comptroller:
* The superintendent purchased $100,000 of overpriced highway supplies much of which remained unused, and admitted to accepting $2,000 in gift-card kickbacks from one of the vendors who sold him those supplies;
* The board could have paid $46,000 less for the $100,000 in supplies through a competitive procurement process;
* The superintendent purchased $18,000 in sand from his uncle, without bidding;
* The superintendent’s actions wasted about $90,000 in taxpayer funds;
* The board did not make sure the superintendent solicited bids, as required by law, for $109,000 in purchases, or obtained price quotes, as required by town policy, for $12,000 in purchases; and
* The board approved the payment of vouchers for the excessive and overpriced highway products purchased by the superintendent without questioning the need and quantity of goods purchased, the use of two new vendors, the suspicious invoices, or the lack of bids and quotes.
Now you can say that this might not have occurred if the members of the Town board had done their job, but let’s be realistic. What percentage of town board members across the state are prepared to do an effective job of monitoring and supervising town agencies? I’m not blaming the people, 99.9% of whom are undoubtedly fine people and well-intentioned. I’m blaming the system that burdens them with a level of responsibility they are hard pressed to achieve.
By merging towns and villages into larger units, local governments in New York could afford better computer systems to monitor expenditures as well as professional managers to oversee those systems. Plus the larger the geographic area being covered the less likelihood that the opportunity will arise for someone to give a contract to a relative.
How long can New York’s taxpayers afford to subsidize Town and Village highway departments that waste tens of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars?
My recommendation is that most Village and Town functions be taken over by County Governments, but until the public starts demanding such changes we’ll be keeping the State’s auditors busy finding more government consolidation heros.