CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – Town of Cheektowaga department heads are now being asked to fill out a new Vehicle/Equipment Requisition Form to help Town leaders determine if the large ticket item requested by the department is truly needed or not.
The new process is the brainchild of Councilmember Alice Magierski. She says the process was developed to ensure every Town Board member had enough information to make an informed decision on these types of purchases.
Many times in the past, the Town Board would pass “notice to bidder” resolutions to buy a new vehicle or a new piece of motorized equipment without first having a complete picture as to why the vehicle or piece of equipment was being purchased in the first place. This form changes that.
“This is a way for us to get all the information, ask why they want to buy it, is it a replacement, and we can make a better decision on moving forward when approving a purchase,” said Councilmember Alice Magierski.
Town department heads will use the new form when they are considering the purchase of a new piece of equipment or vehicle – the exception being the Highway Department.
Highway Superintendent Mark Wegner tells Cheektowaga Chronicle that his department works under a 15-year replacement plan submitted to the Town Board in 2008 and he said he keeps the Town Board informed of new vehicle and equipment purchases.
Town Councilmembers reviewed the form at a board work session Tuesday night and didn’t object to the Supervisor’s recommendation of having the Director of Administration & Finance include it in his upcoming budget packets to the Town’s department heads.
“In my opinion, it’s a good document that’s really just trying to summarize what we should already be doing. It’s just that it’s going to be on paper now and it tells us what’s being purchased, what the details of the new purchase are going to be, when it’s needed and what it’s replacing,” said Brian Krause, Town of Cheektowaga’s Director of Administration & Finance.
“The form I think is for when the actual purchase is going to commence. So from a budget standpoint, it makes us think that way to say, okay, let’s tell the powers that be when we’re putting the budget together what our plans are and here are the details,” added Mr. Krause.
The form will also allow Town Councilmembers to fully answer questions from residents providing for a greater level of transparency. Over the past several months, a few Town residents have asked Councilmembers during Town Board meetings as to why the Town continues to purchase new vehicles and equipment.
“Considering the people questioning the purchasing of the vehicles, this form gives us some control and also gives us more information, so when we’re questioned we can say this vehicle is needed,” added Ms. Magierski.
This new process is expected to dovetail with another initiative that Ms. Magierski and Councilmember Gerald Kaminski is undertaking regarding the use of pool cars by Town departments.
The Town Board has a good idea as to how many vehicles are owned by the Town, but many pool cars – such as those assigned to Town departments located at the Alexander Community Center – go unused leading to headaches for the Central Garage.
“If they’re not being used and they sit long, then they won’t start and then they have to call Central Garage. They have to drive over there and determine what the problem is, whether it just needs to be jump started or if there is a different problem then the car has to be brought back to Central Garage for repairs,” continued Ms. Magierski.
Mechanics also don’t know how often the cars are being used or what the up to date mileage is for every car. Ms. Magierski says she and Mr. Kaminski are brainstorming ideas to move a bulk of the pool cars to the Town Hall complex to allow for better maintenance and oversight.
“The ultimate goal would be to see if we could eliminate some of these cars. Do we have too many? Because they are spread across so many different locations, we don’t know how often they are used,” said Ms. Magierski.
Under the Magierski/Kaminski plan, employees would have to sign out pool cars from the Central Garage and document the vehicle’s starting and ending mileage.
The plan is still in its infancy stages and has a long way before becoming policy.
“In my vision, I believe it is a good move to do this change, but before I gather all the information I don’t know for sure,” added Ms. Magierski.
Ongoing discussions regarding pool cars continue amongst all Councilmembers at the Board’s regularly scheduled work sessions. The next Town Board work session is August 8th at 5 pm in the Council Chambers at Town Hall. It is open to the public.