Measure allowing worker to perform tote inspector duties put on hold

A sanitation employee rights a tote on a windy April day.  (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
A sanitation employee rights a tote on a windy April day.  (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA – A last-minute attempt seeking formal approval to allow a sanitation employee to perform the job of a tote inspector was shut down temporarily by three councilmembers during Tuesday night’s regular board meeting.

Councilmembers Gerald Kaminski, James Rogowski, and Brian Nowak voted no during a procedural vote to allow the measure to be brought up after the council’s regularly scheduled business for the evening.

“This would have been a good thing,” Ms. Benczkowski said.

She says the town purchased 35,000 garbage totes in 2012 for $1.5 million and made another $1.9 million investment the next year to buy recycling totes.  The totes came with a 10-year warranty, and the supervisor and Councilmember Christine Adamczyk want to ensure the town takes advantage of the warranty program before it expires in 2022.

The inspections will be carried out by a “floater” employee in the Sanitation Department.

“We have a storage facility with brand new totes.  It would be very easy to switch them out and start sending any defective totes back before the warranty expires.  It’s going to take a while if this is just a floater that isn’t always going to be doing it every day,” added Ms. Benczkowski.

Mr. Kaminski and Mr. Rogowski tell Cheektowaga Chronicle that the position of tote inspector is unnecessary in their eyes saying all the sanitation laborers should flag any damage they encounter.

“I don’t think it serves any purpose,” Mr. Kaminski said.  “I’m going to talk to the foreman and the crew chief in sanitation.  If these guys can’t let the driver know when they hit a bad tote, then they shouldn’t be out there.”

The floater position is considered a single route under the Town of Cheektowaga Employees Association’s contract.  Laborers bid on the route like any other and the employee with the most seniority is assigned the route.  Historically, the employee will cover other routes when there is an empty spot due to vacations or a sick day.  Ms. Benczkowski feels the added job duty is practical.

“There are times he’s sitting there when he doesn’t have to be on a route to cover for a vacation or sick day, so this floater could actually be doing something to protect our big investment in the totes,” Ms. Benczkowski said.

Mr. Kaminski says he heard the current employee is set to retire in October.  “I don’t know if we have plans to make this a permanent position.  That’s one of the big questions I got. I don’t know at this point and time.  Its been kicked around, mostly hearsay and gossip than anything else but it really hasn’t been discussed at the meetings,” said Mr. Kaminski.

Ms. Benczkowski told Cheektowaga Chronicle the tote inspector duties would come with whoever is in the floater position.

Mr. Nowak told Cheektowaga Chronicle he was a no vote because he didn’t have the time to research the resolution.  Unlike regular business resolutions which are posted late on the Thursday before the meeting – this resolution was first introduced at the board’s work session two-hours before the regular meeting.

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