Councilmember Kaminski questions Lackawanna plow deal

Councilmember Gerald Kaminski at the Cheektowaga Town Board meeting on January 9th. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Councilmember Gerald Kaminski at the Cheektowaga Town Board meeting on January 9th. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA – A shared services agreement with the City of Lackawanna was approved at Tuesday night’s town board meeting weeks after a Cheektowaga snow plow was loaned to the city after their equipment broke down.

The plow was sent to Lackawanna by Cheektowaga Highway Superintendent Mark Wegner after 3 of the city’s 7 plows broke down.

During the town board work session Tuesday afternoon, Councilmember Gerald Kaminski questioned why the equipment was being used without an agreement in place.

“Two weeks ago on Saturday, one of our plows trucks was plowing Grant Boulevard off of Abbott Road in Lackawanna,” said Mr. Kaminski.  “Why are we plowing their streets when most of ours weren’t even that good of shape of that icy Saturday?”

Mr. Wegner tells Cheektowaga Chronicle that back in mid-December Lackawanna first reached out to West Seneca Highway Superintendent Matthew English who referred the city to Cheektowaga because of the town’s fleet size.

Mr. Wegner, Ms. Benczkowski, and Town Attorney John Dudziak called Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski.  “We said we needed a letter stating that any damage will be covered.  They said okay,” said Mr. Wenger.

The truck was picked up by Lackawanna once the letter releasing Cheektowaga of any liability was signed a few days later according to Mr. Wegner. He said no town employee was on the clock plowing streets in the City of Lackawanna.

Mr. Kaminski asked Supervisor Benczkowski why the highway superintendent was loaning out town equipment without prior authorization from the town board.

“We spent over a half-million dollars for a tree grinder and my understanding is that Erie County has had exceptional use out of that piece of equipment too.  In fact, to the point that some of the stuff they broke on it, the county had to spend $1,500 to repair it.  Who even knew it was out there,” asked Mr. Kaminski.

“All towns do this,” Mr. Wegner told Cheektowaga Chronicle.  “I help out the county. Everybody helps out each other.”

Mr. Dudziak told board members that everything was legal with the lending of the plow.

“We have an agreement between the highway superintendent and the City of Lackawanna on that day in order to facilitate the inter-municipal agreement,” said Mr. Dudziak.

Ms. Benczkowski said an email was sent out to the board members on December 15th informing them of the emergency with Lackawanna’s plow fleet.

The formal agreement approved Tuesday was needed because the City of Lackawanna is not apart of another mutual-aid municipal agreement Cheektowaga is apart of Mr. Dudziak told Cheektowaga Chronicle.

Mr. Wegner says service to the taxpayers are not being shortchanged and he can recall the plow from Lackawanna at any time.

“I wouldn’t have let it go if I had to short a route.  I wouldn’t do that.  We only gave it to them because they called, I had three spares, I got two now, and if something happens, I’ll call them and say, ‘look it, I need it back because we’re down,'” added Mr. Wegner.

The formal shared services agreement passed unanimously during the regular board meeting.