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Hamburg wants to put GPS on highway superintendent's vehicle

The Town of Hamburg wants a GPS monitoring device placed on the highway superintendent's town-owned vehicle after it was seen in the parking lot of an Orchard Park movie theater.

Using the vehicle for personal use violates town policy, which Highway Superintendent Ted Casey is challenging in State Supreme Court. He maintains he is on call 24 hours a day, and needs to be able to respond in his black Ford Expedition.

The two sides were in court Wednesday, and Justice Frank A. Sedita III made some suggestions on how the disagreement can be resolved, Town Supervisor James M. Shaw said. If an agreement cannot be reached, they will argue the issues in court Wednesday.

The issue is whether Casey can use the SUV in off-hours, which the Town Board has banned.

Town Board members approved a policy requiring take-home vehicles like Casey's to be used for work only But Casey's SUV was photographed outside an Orchard Park movie theater in November, in violation of the policy, and the board ordered him to surrender it for 60 days. That's when the highway superintendent took the town to court.

The town said in court papers it wants a GPS monitoring device placed on the vehicle. Casey's court filings state he has the authority under the state Highway Law to determine the appropriate use of highway vehicles, and he opposes the GPS system.

"Since Mr. Casey has that exclusive authority there is no basis for their request to monitor town Highway Department vehicles without Mr. Casey's consent," Casey's lawyer, Bradley D. Marble, said in court papers.

Casey turned in the vehicle, but was granted a temporary restraining order Dec. 13, returning it to him. He is asking the court to annul the Town Board's resolution and affirm his right to use the vehicle, which could include occasional incidental personal use.

The town is relying on a section of the state Constitution that prohibits a town from giving a gift of public property to a private individual.

"The people of Hamburg have every right to expect that the highway superintendent will not use his public vehicle to travel outside of the town for personal pursuits and will not use the vehicle for personal and social activities," Shaw said in an affidavit.

But Casey argues that the town has no authority to discipline him by taking his vehicle away, and that Highway Law takes precedence over the state Constitution, giving him the authority to determine the appropriate use of the equipment.

"Clearly, Mr. Casey was available if called upon and was within a distance to properly and effectively respond to a call," Casey's attorney said about the movie theater visit in court filings.

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