WHITE PLAINS, NY - The Westchester County Board of Legislators approved August 10 a new bill that will allow the County to transfer surplus or obsolete paratransit and shuttle buses to municipalities for use in conjunction with programs that benefit County residents, according to a release from the County. This is expected to help municipalities save money while lowering County tax levies.
The new law gives the Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Public Works and Transportation the ability to transfer title of the paratransit and shuttle buses to municipalities for $1. Municipalities will first submit an application for various vehicles and be placed in a scheduled lottery that will occur once a year. The transfer of the used vehicles will be "as is" and be used solely for the public purpose as set forth in the municipalities' applications, according to the release.
Legislator and Majority Leader Peter Harckham introduced the bill initially to the committee. According to Harckham, this will allow the County to downsize its fleet, saving taxpayers money in maintenance and storage costs as well as lowering tax levies in communities that would have bought these vehicles for a substantial cost on the open market.
In the past, when Westchester County auctioned surplus vehicles to municipalities and fire departments, it was accomplished through an Inter-Municipal Agreement (IMA) that was time-consuming and legally intensive. Because of the cumbersome nature of the IMAs, the sales were put on hold in 2009.
The new bill streamlines the application process with clear-cut criteria, puts the requests through a vetting procedure and puts all the applications on equal footing. Transfer of vehicles will be to County "municipal corporations," which includes a city, town, village, board of cooperative educational services, fire district, or school district.
Buses purchased originally through federal or state funding will be subject to limitations spelled out in those grants, the release stated.
"This new dollar surplus vehicle bill will be a big boost for us," said Jeff Daday, president and former chief of the Croton Falls Fire Department. "We've been trying to get a transit bus for the last ten years in order to move personnel around during emergencies and fires, but budgets have been tough and we've been focusing on pressing equipment purchases instead."