Ghent highway chief paves way to savings

GHENT–Highway Superintendent Ben Perry, who continues to offer ideas for more efficient ways for his department operate, has proposed the town consider buying a new plow truck. Last week the Town Board also approved Mr. Perry’s request to install ceiling fans at the town highway garage.

In his first two months as highway superintendent since taking over for Mike Losa at the start of the year, Mr. Perry has brought several ideas to the board that he believes will save money. At the January meeting he made the board aware of excess unused equipment he wanted to sell, and requested the fans. Last week, the board approved that fans request.

Mr. Perry said that fans are needed to circulate the heat and reduce the propane bill. He said he measured a 10-degree F difference from floor to ceiling in the highway garage. Last week he said the last propane bill was about $2,200. He estimated the fans would save the town up to  $2,400 a year in heating costs. He contacted two companies for estimates on the fans, but only one responded. He said the estimate for six fans and installation is $3,920.

Last month, Mr. Perry also said he switched pothole repair material. The material the town had been purchasing cost $518 a ton; the new material costs $95 per ton. Last week Mr. Perry brought in samples of both materials in plastic cups and told the board that the new material is both cheaper and more effective. He said the old material would break up after a day of cars driving over it, but the new material would hold its bond. He said they just purchased 12.5 tons of the new product, a savings for the town $5,277.

Mr. Perry told the board that by switching to a new winter sand provider, the town will see more than $17,000 in savings a year. He said the town used to purchase sand from four different companies. “The idea was great, buying from different people,” he said, “but the expense was quite high.”

He said transportation and hauling the product from different suppliers took a toll. He also said that the product they were getting contained chunks of rocks that damaged their equipment. The product from a new provider he’s looked into is first washed by the company so no rocks are left in it. The cost of the new product in a year’s supply would be $6,300 cheaper for the town. And hauling the product from the new supplier, he estimated, would be $10,908 less than what the town previously spent per year.

The final topic on Mr. Perry’s list this month was the proposal to purchase a new plow truck. He said the town’s primary truck constantly breaks down, and he called it “a money pit.” He said there are engine problems, issues with the transmission and the body is “rotting apart.”

“It is a lemon. It is the biggest piece of junk we have. It is costing us,” he said last week. “It is very apparent that this truck will not last.”
He said the truck lost its 4-wheel-drive capability about an hour into the last snow storm and was unable to plow some roads. He said a new truck would cost about $65,000.

“We need to do something,” he said. “We can’t keep putting our money into something that is useless.”
Town Supervisor Michael Benvenuto said he believes there is about $76,000 in the highway reserve fund. But he said he wanted to discuss the topic with the accountant first.

Also at the February 20 meeting, the board:
•Appointed Keith Kanaga to the Board of Assessment Review
•Heard an update from town attorney Ted Guterman on the case of the Kinderhook Sportsmen’s Club. He said that the Zoning Board of Appeals will review the matter March 12. Zoning Enforcement Officer Gil Raab issued a violation notice to the club regarding an extension on the trap range. The club has appealed.

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