Village Moves Forward on Fire Engine and Other Matters

What’s been happening since the Village elections?

Last week, River Journal sat down with Irvington Village Administrator Larry Schopfer for an update on the fire engine fiasco and other matters.

As you might recall, the Village of Irvington lost $322,201 after making a 75 percent deposit for a new fire engine with Elite Fire Apparatus, a Wisconsin-based company that has since gone bankrupt.

A Michigan-based company called Wolverine Fire Apparatus Company purchased Elite’s assets, but did not assume any of its liabilities, and said Irvington might suffer a complete loss of the money if it did not purchase a performance bond, which it did not.

Since then, KRPJ (Korn Rosenbaum LLP) did an audit of the entire transaction and provided recommendations for avoiding similar problems in the future. Schopfer said that Village officials are currently discussing ways to revise purchasing procedures based on these recommendations, which include:

• Due diligence in determining the financial stability of major vendors.

• Evaluation of whether a purchase needs a performance bond.

• All contracts reviewed by the Village attorney.

• Implement internal audit function of all disbursements.

• Require second signature on checks above certain amount.

• Originating department head should approve all purchase orders.

• All payment terms to be matched by stipulated terms in the bidding process.

• Experts with appropriate technical knowledge to monitor manufacturing progress.

Meanwhile, the Village is involved in two lawsuits that may help it recover some of the lost funds. The Village has filed a claim with Elite’s insurance company.

"I give that a low probability of yielding any results," Schopfer said.

In addition, three residents —Barry Cunningham, Constance Kehoe and Mark Gilliland — filed notice of claim against the Village alleging that the lost money wasn’t authorized to be spent. This claim has been submitted to St. Paul Travelers Public Officials Insurance. Schopfer said this claim might help recover some of the lost funds as well.

Meanwhile, at a recent Board of Trustees meeting, Brenda M. Jeselnik was appointed as the new clerk/treasurer. Jeselnik is currently the deputy treasurer with Sleepy Hollow and will start in Irvington on June 2. She replaces Ed Ritter who has become the Town Comptroller for Bedford.

Other matters

On May 29, The Village trustees and the Irvington Board of Education will hold a joint meeting at the Irvington Public Library to discuss issues regarding the tax base in town and ways the two public entities could share services.

For example, Schopfer said the school may not have certain items such as salt and gasoline — which the Village has — and the School Board could negotiate use of these items in exchange for sharing some of its own infrastructure with the Village.

On June 14, the Village will hold a dedication ceremony of the newly refurbished Bridge Street bridge, which was originally constructed in 1918. Beginning in spring 2007, Metro North and the New York State Department of Transportation began renovations. For many months, because of the renovations, the bridge had weight limitations. And there were seven overnight closures of the bridge, which forced the Village to post a fire engine and firefighters on the other side in case of an emergency.

The Village will rename the bridge as the George E. Duggan Memorial Bridge, in memory of a police officer who died in the line of duty in 1929. His daughter, who resides in Arizona, will fly out for the ceremony.

Beginning May 17 and continuing for several months, the Irvington Historical Society will host an exhibit, "Those Who Served." They will display artifacts such as diaries and other mementos from residents who served in America’s wars. The Historical Society will have extended hours on Memorial Day.

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About the Author: Brett Freeman