GPS for Riverhead highway fleet

FILE PHOTO | Plow trucks at the Osborn Avenue highway department yard.

In a split vote, the Riverhead Town Board voted Tuesday to approve spending about $20,000 a year for three years on GPS monitoring units for town highway department vehicles.

The idea was proposed by highway superintendent George “Gio” Woodson, who believes it will increase accountability and safety, since his department will be able to easily determine where its vehicles are.

But at the prior Town Board meeting, Matt Hattorff, the president of the local Civil Service Employees Association branch representing town employees, was critical of the measure, and even threatened legal action.

The board put off voting on the measure at that meeting, but revived the resolution Tuesday and approved it 3-2, with Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman George Gabrielsen opposed.

Mr. Walter said he supports the idea of using GPS in highway vehicles, but he doesn’t think the town can afford it, since the highway department just decided to spend about $700,000 in reserve funds.

“We’re in tough times, we have a 2 percent tax cap. This isn’t something we can afford now,” Mr. Walter said.

Mr. Gabrielsen said he doesn’t think it’s necessary in light of the tough economy.

Mr. Dunleavy and Ms. Giglio said that Mr. Woodson is an elected officials and should be able to spend his department’s money as he sees fit. The resolution awards a contract to Vehicle Tracking Solutions of Deer Park at a rate of $26.99 per month for each of the department’s approximately 62 vehicles.

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