A routine inspection turned out to be anything but for Essex County Fish Hatchery supervisor Steve LaMere.
LaMere addressed the Essex County Ways and Means Committee March 25, seeking funds to purchase a new vehicle and further repairs to the facility from a fund that was previously set aside for waterline repairs at the Hatchery.
The committee passed the resolution on to the full board.
Recently, LaMere took a Ford F-150 truck that is used for stocking, plowing and other work at the fish hatchery in Crown Point in for inspection. He said that he knew there were problems with the truck, but did not know just how bad it was.
"We were informed that the vehicle was uninspectable," he said. "It is the only fleet vehicle that we have other than the stocking truck."
"This ties our hands as far as the inspection," Department of Public Works Supervisor Anthony LaVigne said. "The old days of just slapping a sticker on it are gone."
LaMere requested that the board approve the use of funds to purchase a 3/4-ton truck with an 8-foot box and plow package from a reserve account that was created initially for a water line repair project that never happened because the cost came in above budget.
"That size box would allow us to put all of our portable stocking tanks on there, and we need a plow package because that is the truck that we will use to move snow," he said. "The project never got off the ground, and the money just sat there in an inactive account."
"After Tropical Storm Irene, we had several issues and were able to get them fixed through funding from FEMA and others, so our water lines are now in pretty good condition," he said.
County Manager Daniel Palmer said that the purchase could run between $25,000 and $30,000.
While supervisors agreed the new truck was needed, some asked if there would be a chance to rebuild the truck body, which was heavily damaged. LaMere said that, based on the recent history of the truck, he would rather start with a new vehicle.
"This truck has been in the shop more than it has been in the fish hatchery," LaMere said. "I would hate to squander this opportunity to purchase a new truck and try and fix the old one only to come back a couple months later with another major issue like a transmission."
County Attorney Daniel Manning said that the board would have to transfer the $106,000 in the waterline reserve fund into another reserve fund that would purchase the vehicle.
"You can take $25,000 out of the waterline reserve fund and put it into a reserve fund for a truck," Manning said. "Then you can figure out what you want to do with the rest of the money and transfer it into another reserve account."
LaVigne said that a possibility for the remainder of the money could be to replace the restroom facilities at the fish hatchery, which had been deemed in code violation.
Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said he felt the extra reserve money should go toward the general budget.
"I think that we should take this money and put it toward relieving the 2 percent tax cap that we now face every year," Scozzafava said.
"Steve has done an excellent job, and he is not someone who has spent money just because he has it and the money is reserved to the fish hatchery," Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said. "This will help the tax cap because he will not have to come back to the board and ask for money to fix this problem."
"This money was taken out of the general fund for the use of the fish hatchery," Manning said. "I think that it would be common sense to keep this money with the hatchery."