Highway supe won’t seek third term without raise

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Highway Department Superintendent Jay Card Jr. at Thursday morning’s budget session at Town Hall.

Jay Card Jr. won’t seek a third term as Highway Superintendent and Public Works Commissioner unless he gets a significant bump in salary.

Mr. Card informed the Town Board of his decision  at a Thursday morning budget meeting, in light of a projected $4,500 increase in his salary in the preliminary budget.

Mr. Card is currently paid $72,000.

Mr. Card told the board he believes he has demonstrated what he can do on the job and said he’ll meet his commitment for the next two years — he’s running unopposed in November for a second term.

The salary doesn’t reflect Mr. Card’s worth, said Councilman Paul Shepherd. Councilman Ed Brown said, “I wouldn’t be against addressing this next year.”

What is likely to irk Mr. Card as much as not getting a substantial pay raise this year is the board’s decision to only allocated $180,000 for road repairs in anticipation of a hike in state Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) grant money.

CHIPS funds are slated to go from $97,000 this year to $123,321 in 2014.

Money in the current budget this year has gone primarily for work on main arteries, while neighborhood roadways have had to be largely ignored, Mr. Card said. He added he would need about $300,000 to keep the roads on a 20-year repair cycle.

“You have to come to an average” about how often repairs are likely to be needed on heavily travelled roadways and how often work needs to be done on those less travelled, Mr. Shepherd said.

Part of that depends on weather, Mr. Card said. During mild times, micro-surfacing might be sufficient to keep many roads in shape. But a harsh winter can result in severe cracks, requiring major work tearing up and replacing broken roadways.

He was also seeking $90,000 for two new trucks with the Town Board deciding to purchase one out of the current year’s budget and likely putting the second one on hold. The money for the truck to be purchased this year would come from $30,000 expected from the federal government in aid due the town as a result of damage from last February’s snowstorm, Nemo, that walloped the Island.

There should also be some money left in the account from snow removal that could be used toward the truck since Nemo was the winter’s single major storm, Mr. Card said. If a little more is needed, it could come from the town’s capital fund balance, Mr. Brown said.

What Town Board members aren’t understanding, Mr.Card said, is how difficult it is in the middle of the night to clear snow or storm debris with too few vehicles that aren’t working properly.

“You guys don’t feel that,” Mr. Card said.

POLICE

The Highway Department isn’t the only town department feeling the pinch.

Police Chief Jim Read told the Town Board he wants a $105,000 federal grant to improve communications among police, fire, ambulance service and highway department officials during any emergency. The town would have to pony up 25 percent of the grant, with the federal government picking up the rest.

But Chief Read said the police budget is “bare bones” and can’t support the department’s estimated $6,000 share of the town’s approximately $25,000 to improve communications among the various responders.

If grant is approved, the town would have to front all $105,000 and await a 75 percent reimbursement from the federal government. But the grant would likely be awarded sometime between March and May of 2014 and work would have to be done within a 90-day period, at which time, the town could seek reimbursement, Chief Read said. That means that the reimbursement could be expected in the 2014 fiscal year.

“I think that this is a very important thing,” Councilwoman Chris Lewis said about finding a way for the town to pick up costs the police can’t if the grant is forthcoming. People may not understand the decision now, but the day a storm hits, if they’re not well served, they will rightfully blame town officials if they fail to support this effort, she said.

DEER AND TICK INITIATIVE

The board raised its planned $98,500 plan to fund to 25 4-poster units to $100,000 and Supervisor Jim Dougherty said he now has six families willing to fund units. It’s still not the $152,000 the Tick and Deer Committee was seeking. But he also said the estimated $5,000 per unit cost might be paired down to $4,000 per unit. The board also agreed to allocate $500 for deer management that would pay for such things as garbage bags for hunters to use to dispose of carcasses.

COURT

Judge Helen Rosenblum and court clerk Beverly Pelletier won their request to increase a $13,260 line item for a part-time clerk to $17,680 in order to offer a part-timer 20 hours a week at $17 per hour. With an increasing case load and more mandates about how records must be filed, Ms. Pelletier said she needs the extra help.
Hitting one wrong computer key could destroy a person’s reputation, Ms. Pelletier said about the need to assure records are handled properly.

“We are dealing with peoples’ liberties and reputations,” Mr. Dougherty agreed.

Town Board members hope to wrap up their budget at a continued hearing on Tuesday following the work session.

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