I-Team 10 Investigation: Public crews doing private work

Posted at: 10/17/2013 6:56 PM
Updated at: 10/17/2013 7:08 PM

Town road crews are doing paving work on a farmer's driveway. It happened despite the objections of some crew members on the job.

Residents in Nunda are now expressing their concerns over whether their tax dollars were used improperly.

A driveway at a farm on Picket Line Road in Nunda is creating a stir. I-Team 10 received a handful of complaints that it was town highway crews that did some of the work on the private property.

Teshe Swan said, “I think it's pretty outrageous. Why can't they go along and pave all our driveways then?”

George Hamilton said, "It's not right for them to just do it for him and not have him pay for it or anything you know?”

So I-Team 10 went to the town garage to get some answers and that's where we found highway superintendent Rick Moran. He offered no denials and no apologies.

Rick Moran, Nunda Highway Superintendent, said, "We worked together to do the whole road. We worked together to do the transition, and yes, we did help pave a little of the driveway. If I'm at fault, I would do the same for any taxpayer in this town."

He says his crews were working on the road in front of the farm when the property owner decided to order additional asphalt to blend into the roadwork. Moran says he offered his crew's help and equipment to roll the driveway.

Moran said, “Why should we charge them for a couple hours of town work that we're already there doing?”

I-Team 10's Brett Davidsen said, “But then what do you say to other residents in the town of Nunda who say, 'you gave him a few hours of work, the town should give me a few hours of work. Come and do my driveway?'

Moran said, "I understand that. We don't make a practice of doing it."

But in doing it, it has created an issue three weeks before Election Day. Moran, the highway superintendent, is looking to be re-elected. The politics behind it may explain why we were tipped off. 

Still, it came to a head last week at the town board meeting.

Davidsen said, “After learning all this, what did you say to your highway superintendent?”

Thomas Baldwin, Nunda Town Supervisor, said, "Well, we just instructed him that, you know, we don't do this. We don't enter private property."     

Moran acknowledges that some crew members objected to doing the private work, but...

Moran said, "They didn't refuse to work and to me they're my men for the day. I'm going to put them to work."   

Thomas Baldwin said, "If a worker did say it to him, which I didn't hear that he did, but if he heard him say it to him, then it should have been a red flag."

The town supervisor says, despite the controversy, he supports his highway superintendent in the upcoming election and right now, he has no plans to punish Moran. 

I-Team 10 also spoke with the farm owner by phone. He says he paid for the asphalt and the paver, but admits he did not pay for the labor or rolling expenses. He says he is willing to reimburse the town for its time and says he believes everything was done innocently and in good faith.