Town of Champion no longer plowing county routes

wwny Town of Champion no longer plowing county routes

TOWN OF CHAMPION, N.Y. (WWNY) - The town of Champion is leaving it up to the Jefferson County Highway Department to plow 15 miles of county roads in the township. But, not all town board members are on board.

In the past, the town of Champion has been contracted by Jefferson County to plow County Routes 45, 47, 69, 143, and 163.

That changed January 1.

Town Supervisor Bruce Ferguson wanted the county to pay the town more for taking care of these roads, because the cost for the town to do so would go up.

"The town of Champion was looking for $150,000, instead of the $97,000 that we've been paid in 2019," he said.

Jefferson County Highway Department Superintendent Jim Lawrence says the town would have made more than $100,000 in 2020.

But the figure wouldn't be the $150,000 Ferguson wants.

Lawrence says his department has used the same formula to come up with contract numbers for a decade.

“In the past, we’ve presented 2 percent a year was a part of the contract with a minimum of CPI (consumer price index). So, it’s worked good for the last 10 years,” he said.

The town board voted unanimously to opt out of the county contract back in August. But since then, one member has had a change of heart.

"Yeah, I changed my mind because we got to go over most of the road with our trucks anyways. We get a lot of traffic from Fort Drum, people going to Fort Drum. So, I think we should be plowing it and suffering the loss our self," said Louis Waite, Champion town board member.

When the county took over plowing on January 1, the winter storm that day gave people in the town an idea of how well the county will do taking over the job.

Ferguson says, so far, so good.

"Even with this first storm, which could have resulted in different issues, but it went smooth. And, I would hope that it would continue that way," he said.

Lawrence says the town of Champion will always have the opportunity to opt back in to the contract.

"I foresee in the future, hopefully things will change, and we'll be back to the way things were before," he said.

According to Ferguson, no jobs were lost by opting out of the contract.

And taxes for town residents won’t go up.

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