Town to inventory instead of audit

Board institues new policies on gas 

Loose ends are being tied up.

That was the goal of the Whitehall town board on Nov. 12 as they passed a new policy on use of town property and personal vehicles and enacted a new reporting system on fuel and equipment used at the town highway garage.

 

The moves came after a month of discussion and investigation over the town highway department, which led to the resignation of former town highway superintendent Brian Rozell and the appointment of superintendent Louis Pratt.

Pratt, in his first report to the board, said that the town used considerably less diesel fuel and gasoline as they had in previous months.

“All we used in one month was 53 gallons,” said Pratt. “That is a lot less than what we were using, and what we have in the tanks now should last us for another year.”

Pratt said that members of the town highway department have to fill out reports when they use vehicles and equipment and when they fill vehicles with gas.

“We all have reports to fill out and that is how I will be keeping track of the fuel oil from here on out,” said Pratt. “We are going to be doing an inventory on the fuel levels every week and monthly on the oil. We will have the gas and fuel oil reports to you every month. We have worked on this so there is something that I can bring in to show you guys what we are doing.”

Pratt also said that he is open to letting anyone view any of the inventory reports that will be at his office at the town garage.

“I will have all of the paperwork at the office for anyone to see,” said Pratt.

Town councilman David Waters said that he was the most interested in the way Pratt would be keeping track of gasoline and fuel oil.

“The main thing I want to see is the fuel report based on what has been going on,” said Waters.

“The fuel report is a weekly thing for me,” said Pratt. “I’ll make a monthly report for the town board, and all of the reports will be signed because I am the responsible one out there and I will take the responsibility for everything out there.”

Members of the board were pleased with the reports.

“These are very good reports that Louis has given us,” said councilman Farrell Prefountaine.

The board accepted the reports from Pratt, and later voted on a resolution concerning the use of town property and vehicles.

“Use of personal vehicles by any town employee, officer or elected official for town business is prohibited except (1) when such use has been specifically authorized by the town board; or (2) in an emergency,” said the resolution. “The use of town of Whitehall property of any kind, including but not limited to fuel, equipment, tools, materials or supplies, for any purpose other than town business is prohibited.”

Waters also said that there was a town law on the books that prohibited anyone from taking fuel oil for use in a personal vehicle.

“There is a town law that states that the compensation of all town employees comes from their salary,” said Waters. “What it means is the superintendent of highways salary was paid, and it included any of his expenses that he did for the town. That makes any fuel that was taken illegal.”

Waters called for an executive session following his remarks to talk about specific former and current personnel, with no further action from the board when they came back into the regular meeting.

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