YORKTOWN, N.Y. — Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace presented a detailed explanation Friday opposing the creation of a Department of Public Works and changing the highway superintendent from an elected to an appointed position.
During the taping of his cable program at Town Hall, Grace, who is one of five votes on the Town Board, made his first comments on the highly debated subjects since a lengthy July 25 work session with Citizens for a DPW, a group that has been lobbying for a November referendum to have voters decide on giving up their right to choose who directs road paving and snow plowing.
“A DPW will not save the town money; it will cost the town money,” Grace said in a 10-page statement. “It would therefore be irresponsible to let out for referendum the issue of whether the highway superintendent should be eliminated as an elected position on the heels of a campaign of unrelenting misinformation. It is also irresponsible to let out the issue for referendum in a vacuum of what the managerial framework of the town will be should the referendum be passed.”
However, Grace also said there was “value in continuing the exploration of a DPW,” although he believes Citizens for a DPW’s claim that such a department would save the town $250,000 is unrealistic.
“At this time, it is my belief that the discussion is premature and ill-defined and, most unfortunately, fogged under the continuing misinformation campaign,” he said. “I would fully support further exploration of the issue with a managerial framework that would include both the operational and visionary functions of government and, upon a full vetting of all the consequences, both short-term and long-term, associated with a change toward a DPW.”
Susan Siegel, who was unseated by Grace last November and has been one of the vocal members of Citizens for a DPW, called Grace’s remarks “totally disingenuous” and “replete with misstatements.”
“With all due respect to Mr. Grace, who still insists that he started the discussion with an open mind, his objections to a DPW were obvious from our very first presentation in May,” Siegel said. “The DPW issue has always been about saving money, increasing efficiency and maintaining services during difficult financial times. We regret that Supervisor Grace doesn’t believe that the voters of Yorktown should have the opportunity to vote on the concept of a DPW.
“If the board were to hold a hearing in early September, there would still be time to have a communitywide debate on the issue,” she added. “It’s not as complicated as the supervisor makes it out to be. Saving money by consolidation is common sense.”