TOWN OF NIAGARA – Random drug testing is now part of the workday for town employees.
After a year of discussion, the Town Board formally approved a procedure Tuesday that would allow implementation of a testing program in agreement with Western New York Occupational Health Care in connection with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
The program, which was agreed to with the local Civil Service Employees Association, will run for an initial contract of two years.
All 34 paid employees as well as all 40 to 60 summer workers would be subject to random testing for a variety of illegal and controlled substances. The same employee could be tested more than once a year, if necessary. Only elected and appointed officials and volunteer firemen would be exempt from the policy. All new employees already are being tested.
If the testing is positive, the employee would be subject to treatment and discipline procedures.
Deputy Supervisor Danny Sklarski called it a “significant resolution” that “absolutely needed to be done.” He noted that the procedure assures the public that the town is a safe and drug-free workplace and that town crews are not under the influence of any substances when working.
Supervisors would be trained to determine if additional or emergency testing is needed, according to the policy. Training for supervisors would cost $200 for a group of 10 and $15 for any additional supervisor.
Each drug test would cost the town $60 and would be conducted on site to avoid overtime and travel expenses. Breath alcohol tests would run $23. After-hours testing at the hospital would cost $75.
The town program is modeled after one developed under federal law and the state Department of Transportation for truck drivers.
The board hired Harvey Albond, who has been researching and developing the program and policy since February 2012, as administrator of the program at a rate of $100 an hour, not to exceed $3,000 unless approved by a board majority. Councilman Robert Clark voted against hiring Albond.
In another matter, the board approved a list of duties for a project manager to work in the building department.
Sean Pello, of the Buffalo engineering firm of Clark Patterson Lee, will work 16 hours a week on a variety of projects, including: a proposal for the reuse of the U.S. Army Base, which is to be turned over to the town this year; the design of protective dugouts at the town parks; a new roof on the shelter at Veterans Memorial Park; an examination and restructuring of utility use in town buildings to reduce costs; and an update of the master plan.
Probably the biggest project for Pello would be the proposed expansion of the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls this year.
Clark, who has questioned the placement of the manager in the past, also voted against the duties.
The board also agreed to change its meeting schedule for March. The work sessions will be held at 7 p.m. on March 14 and 21. The regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on March 26.