Move to abolish Huntington highway job called off

Photo credit: Howard Schnapp | Democrat Superintendant of Highways Town of Huntington William Naughton in Huntington. (June 2, 2005)

August 19, 2012

A move to abolish the Huntington highway superintendent post has been called off. 

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said Friday that after a two-hour meeting with highway Superintendent William Naughton and other town officials on cost-saving ideas, he has reconsidered and will not seek to have a referendum on the issue placed on the November ballot. 

"Nobody wanted to go in and do a reorganization when there could be other ways to do it," Petrone said. "But there had to be a willingness for realignment, and there was." 

Naughton said he is happy the reorganization idea is off the table and thinks it's better for everyone that the two sides agreed to work on a solution. 

"We agreed that some changes could be made with personnel and costs," Naughton said. "It's going to take a bit of time. It's a work in progress."

Also at the meeting were town board member Eugene Cook, town attorney John Leo, interim comptroller Andrew Persich and director of general services Thom Boccard. 

Petrone said the group, along with deputy town supervisor Pat DelCol, will work to find strategies to centralize equipment repair, cross-utilize facilities, integrate technology and coordinate back-office functions.

"The goal is to save dollars and improve services without cutting personnel," Petrone said. 

Last month, the town board hastily set three public hearings for this month to consider whether to eliminate the elected highway superintendent post and make it an appointed position; whether to eliminate the general services department, and whether to create in its place a department of public works, which would include the highway and general services divisions. 

Last week two dozen residents came to a hearing to express their opposition to those ideas; four spoke in favor.

"Maybe these are things that should have happened before and should happen more often," Naughton said of the meeting. "Because sometimes people let things build up and then they get carried away."

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