WENY News - Town of Chemung lays off entire highway department

Town of Chemung lays off entire highway department

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CHEMUNG, N.Y. (WENY) --The Chemung Town Board held a meeting tonight where they announced they'll be laying off their entire highway department.

"It's just a simple matter of financial arithmetic," said Chemung Town Supervisor, George Richter. "Our payroll budget will be out of funds in the foreseeable future if we didn't make some sort of decision."

Richter says the decision to cut all six of their highway department members wasn't an easy decision. He says since September the town and the workers union has been trying to come up with an agreement as the town tries to save some money. At the beginning of the year, Richter says they were able to strike a deal with their union.

"We offered them a deal that they accepted, although not unilaterally, and this is the outcome of that," said Richter. "I had warned them in advance, there's going to be a negative consequences to signing these terms. We don't have this kind of money. Now those chickens have come home to roost."

Richter says the main reason they're hurting financially is due to the loss of sales tax proceeds. But he says the decision to lay off the workers was not just his alone. 

"The board members were well aware of this," said Richter. "This is not a one man decision by any stretch of the imagination. As you can see tonight, all were in agreement with the decision. Although we don't like it, the decision had to be made was done by the five of us, not one person."

At the meeting, it was also brought up to lay off a few highway department workers instead of them all. According to Richter, it takes at least six crew members to take care of their town and Ashland. He says he hopes the decision to operate without a highway department is temporary and short lived. Richter also says the town always reserves the right to call any of their highway department members back as needed, when needed. 

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