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Penfield may privatize plowing 

The Town of Penfield may start using a private contractor to plow some of the town's subdivisions in the winter. The rest of the plowing would still be done by Penfield's public works employees.

Officials want to know if the move would save money, says Town Supervisor Tony LaFountain, through reductions in overtime and equipment wear and tear. Officials are reviewing bids to see how they compare to the cost of using town employees to plow the roads.

LaFountain says that it's a matter of meeting residents' demands for stable taxes. But the town will also consider bidders' experience and equipment to make sure potential contractors are qualified and capable, he says.

"We can't just look at the bottom line," LaFountain says. "We've got to look at the full package."

The Town Board would review the results at the end of the winter, he says.

The City of Rochester contracts out snowplowing for residential streets. But LaFountain says he's not aware of any Monroe County towns that do so.

Flo Tripi, western region president of CSEA, the union that represents Penfield's public works employees, says that contracting out snowplowing is a bad idea. She says she doubts that a private contractor would be cheaper. And the town has capable employees with years of experience clearing Penfield's roads, she says.

Contractors won't have that knowledge, she says. And she questions whether they'd have the same commitment to the job. That will be especially important, she says, if the area has a rough winter.

"He's [LaFountain] willing to sacrifice that," Tripi says.

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