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Brookhaven board endorses snow equipment evaluation

Town of Brookhaven highway workers clean up the

Town of Brookhaven highway workers clean up the scene of an accident where a town truck rolled over on Ridge Road in Shoreham. (Feb. 10, 2013) Credit: Daniel Brennan

The Brookhaven Town Board on Thursday endorsed Supervisor Ed Romaine's recommendation to evaluate the highway department's snow removal equipment with an eye on a five-year capital improvement program.

The recommendation was one of several Romaine suggested to the town council and highway department Wednesday to improve performance in the division, which struggled with plowing snow in this month's blizzard. Town officials have said breakdowns were a problem and that plows struggled to remove snow up to 3 feet.

"I would imagine our highway department has a good idea of our equipment and what is needed," Independent Councilwoman Kathleen Walsh said after Romaine said he would introduce legislation for a request for proposals to evaluate equipment at next Tuesday's council meeting.

The town needs an independent evaluation so the elected highway superintendent has a list of recommendations, the supervisor responded.

Walsh is running for highway supervisor on the Democratic line against Republican Assemb. Dan Losquadro in a special March 5 election.

The results of the evaluation could lead to a five-year capital program and possible tax increases, Romaine said Wednesday.

Asked by Walsh if the highway department leadership requested the resolution, Romaine said it was "a request of my leadership; my request."

Walsh later said she would support the legislation.

Conservative Councilwoman Jane Bonner also supported the resolution at Thursday's work session. "I think the public is clamoring for answers as to what happened, and unless we start the process to investigate what happened . . . we're never going to get to the bottom of this."

Town purchasing director Kathleen Koppenhoefer said the evaluation would include an equipment assessment and determine what needs replacing.

"I think everybody on the board would like to evaluate the highway equipment, and I think some of us would like to look a little bit further as to what went wrong in the storm," Democratic Councilwoman Connie Kepert said. "I think we owe that to the taxpayers."

The town board is also expected to introduce a resolution to increase pay rates for snowplow contractors and a resolution to ask the state to raise the town's annual cap on heavy-equipment purchases from $1 million to $2.6 million.

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