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Clarkstown Hired Outside Counsel For Highway Department Lawsuit

Board delays report from fleet manager because of lawsuit filed by county and state superintendents' associations

 

When a resident asked at the Tuesday night Clarkstown Town Board meeting about the status of an expected report on the fleet manager position at the highway department, she was told it had been postponed. Town Supervisor Alex Gromack said that the report, which was expected in December or January, was not being released because of the lawsuit filed against the town by the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highway.

“Counsel representing the town has indicated we should hold off,” said Gromack.

The lawsuit filed on Nov. 14 charges that the town board’s appointment of a fleet manager who reports to the board and not the highway superintendent is illegal because it takes away state authorized powers from the superintendent.

The town hired outside counsel, Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP, to represent it in the lawsuit. Town Attorney Amy Mele said an outside attorney was necessary since her office had represented Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard previously and he was a plaintiff in the legal action against the town. 

The White Plains firm previously prepared a legal opinion for the town board regarding its plan to consolidate the mechanics from the highway department, town garage and mini trans into one unit under a fleet manager who would not be supervised by the highway superintendent.

“You have asked us to review whether the Town Board may lawfully re-assign mechanics who work in the highway department to a central vehicle maintenance facility that is not under the supervision of the Highway Superintendent. Our opinion is that the Town Board may do so.”

The state superintendents’ association joined with the Rockland County Highway Superintendents Association and individual plaintiffs Ballard, former Clarkstown Highway Superintendent John Mauro, and current Superintendents Jim Dean of Orangetown, Larry Brissing of Stony Point, Frank Brooks of Haverstraw and Tony Sharan of Ramapo in the lawsuit. Their legal counsel is Dennis Lynch of Nyack. 

Ryan Buncher December 05, 2012 at 09:59 PM
A copy of the pending lawsuit against Clarkstown is now attached to this report.

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