YORKTOWN, N.Y. - Battle lines have been drawn between the Yorktown Town Board and a citizens group advocating the elimination of the elected highway superintendent in favor of a Department of Public Works.
Leaders of Yorktown Citizens for a DPW criticized the Town Board last week for not acting on their request to schedule a work session on their proposal and setting a public hearing in early August. The group is pushing for a referendum in November since the highway superintendent position is up for election in 2013.
Highway Superintendent Eric DiBartolo has publicly stated several times he will not be seeking re-election next year, but Yorktown Citizens for a DPW has insisted its objective is to save the town money, not force out DiBartolo.
"There are two related and intertwined issues: whether the voters want a centralized Department of Public Works that will save them money, or no DPW and the status quo with an elected superintendent who is only accountable to them once every four years and who can act independently of the Town Board," said Renee Fogarty, a spokesperson for the group. "The voters can't have it both ways - a cost saving DPW and an elected highway superintendent. They'll have to choose between the two."
Yorktown Citizens for a DPW has said its preliminary research has indicated a $251,000 annual savings, something DiBartolo vehemently denies.
That figure "is not even close to being correct," he said. "What the residents deserve is the actual numbers. It will cost the town more."
Town Supervisor Michael Grace took issue with the group, which includes former supervisors Aaron Bock and Susan Siegel, for publicly quoting figures before an in-depth analysis has been done by town officials.
"It's not helpful to throw out numbers. I have a problem passing around information that may not necessarily be true," Grace said. "The Town of Yorktown has traditionally wanted to have an elected highway superintendent. A lot of communities that have a DPW may now be regretting that they did."
Councilman Nick Bianco added, "You're assuming a lot of things. One thing you're assuming is this system doesn't work."
Grace said he was "open minded" about the proposal and promised to devote a work session to it by the end of July.