Town of Mansfield, NY - The early spring snowfalls have kept the town of Mansfield Highway department busy as they plow 40 miles of roads. That's especially true since they're shorthanded. The fifth man of the crew is missing and that would be Highway Superintendent Gary Hahn. We asked his deputy if he has seen Hahn, who is an elected official.
Two on Your Side's Ron Plants asked Deputy Superintendent Brad Hurley "What was the last time you actually spoke to Mr. Hahn...the actual Superintendent do you think ?" Hurley replied "I don't know...guess on the phone maybe three or four weeks ago."
Reporter: And that's been the last contact you've really had with 'em ?
Hurley says "Probably..yeah."
Deputy Supervisor Hurley has been running the department for a while with town overtime costs for his juggling of administrative and other duties. That is even in the wake of a fire last October which destroyed the original highway building, some vehicles, and equipment.
Town Supervisor Robert Keis says "It's costing us a substantial amount of money. It's a very frustrating situation for myself and the town board and of course the taxpayers are not happy about it. We've sought some help from different avenues and so far there seems to be nothing we can do."
The town is also paying Hahn's $44,000 salary and health benefits and he is collecting retirement credits. Because even though the highway superintendent does not show up for work, Keis says he does show up every two weeks to file a time sheet. Keis says Hahn has not provided any explanation.
The reporter asked "Can't it be reported to the state police, the district attorney, somebody in the state or whoever...the sheriffs office to try and investigate this man and find out what's going on?
Keis replied "We've actually been audited just recently."
It was actually a state comptroller's audit and the concerns about Hahn's long absence was noted in a town reply letter to that audit.
It states "Several town officials expressed concern to the auditor that the Highway Superintendent has not come to work for the last several months. The Town Board is aware there is nothing the Town can do about the lack of attendance."
That doesn't sit well with some town residents like John Barry who asked "What accountability is there ? The town and the supervisor are saying...it's not us...we're not responsible."
Keis responds "The highway superintendent does not answer to the town supervisor or the town board. He answers to the electors of the town."
We tried to reach Superintendent Hahn but apparently there was no one at his home in the town and my phone calls just went to his voice mail.
Supervisor Keis says "I am not in a position to actually fire him or do anything along those lines to resolve this issue other than constantly trying to communicate with him as to what he's doing. But now he's not even showing up for me to communicate with. He doesn't come to town board meetings anymore."
We contacted the Cattaraugus County District Attorney but she did not comment. The State Attorney General's Office said they do have a public integrity unit but they had nothing specific to say about this case. So far there is no response from the State Comptroller's Office which again recently audited the town.
Supervisor Keis says he has researched such cases and found that when they go to court, the judge usually rules in favor of a superintendent who again is an elected official.
Hahn's two year term as Highway Superintendent will expire in December unless he opts to retire earlier.