Niagara Gazette

Opinion

February 17, 2014

GUEST VIEW: Town officials working to stop gas thefts in Lewiston

Niagara Gazette — I am writing in response to your recent editorial regarding the alleged theft of fuel by two town employees and the former town supervisor. I want your readers and the taxpayers of Lewiston to know that we have already taken steps to prevent this type of problem from occurring in the future.

Upon taking office, one of the first meetings I had was with our Highway Superintendent Doug Janese. He and I have begun to build a very strong and positive working relationship by putting aside politics to do whatever is best for Lewiston.

Prior to last November’s election, I had read the New York state comptroller’s report of 2011 detailing the “suspicious” use of fuel. At that first meeting, I asked our superintendent what steps the town had taken to address the concerns contained in it. He explained that in order to dispense any fuel, an employee had to insert a fuel key registered to that vehicle, enter his own four digit security code and the vehicle mileage before the pump could be used. He said that shortly after the report was issued, he directed that each town employee had to select a new four-digit code. All duplicate or unregistered codes and keys were removed from the fuel system. Because he could not account for all of the keys that had been issued over the years for the buildings and outer gates, those locks were rekeyed, and new high illumination lighting had been installed at the fuel island itself.

When I asked Janese what the policy was on personal vehicles being allowed into the fenced area, he said he had a strict policy that prohibited any personal vehicles inside the gates for all highway department employees, including himself. He told me that even prior to the revelation that fuel was being taken, he had made requests to prohibit any and all personal vehicles from entering the compound. He said he had also asked permission to install a security camera to monitor the fuel pumps and garage area but that both requests were denied.

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