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State mandate on signs irks highway boss

Orchard Park Highway Superintendent Fred Piasecki walked into the supervisor's conference room and plunked down one of the new green and white street signs that the town must erect by 2018.

This one was for Old Orchard Lane. At 1 foot tall by 5 feet long, it was much larger than the existing sign, and costs 64 percent more than the existing ones.

"This is another state mandate, unfunded," Piasecki told the Orchard Park Town Board during its work session Wednesday.

New York State has adopted federal standards for the signs, which require all road and street signs to be reflective, he said. Letters must be upper and lower case, and the size of the street sign depends on the speed of the road on which it is located. Piasecki said Old Orchard is off Powers Road, which is 45 mph, resulting in the 60-inch-long sign. A slower speed limit would require a smaller sign, he said.

Municipalities are required to adopt a management assessment plan in 2012, which outlines how they will inventory and update their signs, he said.

Regulatory and warning signs are to be replaced in 2015, and street signs must be replaced by 2018, he said.

Councilman Eugene Majchrzak suggested the town determine how much it will cost to replace its signs and put some money away each year. He said Orchard Park should wait until the final year to erect the signs, in case local officials can lobby to soften the standards.

"Hopefully they have to come to their senses," he said. "I'd hate to spend all this money, then in 2016 in changes back."

Also at Wednesday's work session, the board discussed changes in the Personnel Policy Manual, which details work rules and benefits for appointed and elected officials.

Board members said they want to eliminate health benefits for part-time employees, including the town attorney. They also discussed eliminating health benefits for retired elected officials over 65.