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County and municipalities agree on plowing terms, after contract lapse

WORKING TOGETHER — Pictured are, from left: Orchard Park Highway Superintendent Fred Piasecki, Evans Highway Superintendent Ed Michalski, Newstead Supervisor David Cummings, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Aurora Supervisor Jolene Jeffe, Concord Supervisor Gary Eppolito and Concord Highway Superintendent Dennis Dains. Photo submitted by Peter Anderson.
[Photo1]ERIE COUNTY — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz was joined by Commissioner of Public Works John Loffredo, Aurora Supervisor Jolene Jeffe, Concord Supervisor Gary Eppolito, Newstead Supervisor Dave Cummings, Concord Highway Superintendent Dennis Dains, Evans Highway Superintendent Ed Michalski and Orchard Park Superintendent Fred Piasecki, to announce that a new snowplowing agreement has been reached between Erie County and the 32 municipalities that contract with the county for snowplowing.

The new contract, which must be approved by the Erie County Legislature and the town boards of each of the municipalities, called for an annual increase of 3 percent for the next three years, which amounts to an initial increase of $135,000 from the expired contract.

“With colder weather coming in the next few months, it was imperative we reach a fair agreement that was fiscally conservative and also ensured the public’s safety,” Poloncarz said. “I am pleased these negotiations produced a result that is fiscally workable for all parties involved and protects the public safety, as well.

“Both sides understood we would have to compromise a little to reach a mutually agreeable position,” the county executive added. “I thank the members of the Highway Superintendents Association and town supervisors for their willingness to discuss this issue and help in reaching the solution we did.”

Negotiations that centered on the new agreement began in March, with three sessions involving members of the association and the Erie County Departments of Public Works and budget.

Erie County’s snowplowing expense grew from $2.1 million in 2000 to $4.5 million in the current fiscal year.

The towns had initially sought a contract that would have granted them annual, 5 percent raises for the next three years, which would have added more than $225,000 to the county budget in the first year.

Eppolito and Piasecki said, “We would like to thank County Executive Poloncarz and his entire staff. While negotiations were difficult, we feel we have a fair contract. Both sides gave a little.

“We would like to thank town highway superintendents Dennis Dains and Ed Michalski and Aurora Supervisor Jolene Jeffe and Newstead Supervisor Dave Cummings who also served on the negotiating team,” they added.

“Negotiations were difficult, but in the interest of public safety, compromises had to be made.”

Erie County Legislature Minority Leader John Mills said, “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 No. 1 priority and I believe that this contract achieves that.”

Pending approval by the legislature, the new contract will take effect in budget years 2014 – 2016.

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