October 25, 2021
BATH, NY – Vince Spagnoletti was honored Monday by the Steuben County Legislature after nearly 30 years of untiring service to the people of Steuben as the county Public Works Commissioner. Spagnoletti credited his Italian immigrant parents for his work ethics. “It was embedded in us with hard work your family could be raised to a better life,” Spagnoletti told legislators. “(As a contractor) my dad dealt with people in local and state governments and he told me once there are people who have it ingrained in them to be honest. He so admired that in this country. So when you hired me it was for me, and our family, something sacred; I would be part of a government that enabled lives to be better.” Officials said hard work, honesty and integrity are the hallmarks of the department he built during his long tenure.
During Spagnoletti’s watch the county attained the No 1 ranking in New York State in the average condition of all the bridges, from 38 percent down to 12 percent. During the past 30 three decades, the road system has achieved the status of Excellent, with poor roads reduced from 102 miles down to 21 miles or 15 percent to 3 percent. Those improvements came through on-going consultations with, and respect for, departmental workers. “He is definitely intelligent, but he always gave me a lot of leeway to do my job,” said retired county Professional Engineer Steve Catherman. “He was definitely not a micro-manager. I appreciated that. I have also admired his integrity as the Commissioner, especially in his dealings with vendors and our purchasing procedures.”
That integrity set the tone for the department, county Public Works Assistant Commissioner – Public Works Steve Orcutt said. “He possesses a great deal of integrity, we never had to worry about being asked to engage in questionable activities and he led by example,” Orcutt said.
With that instinctive integrity, and a mind toward county property taxpayers’ expenses, Spagnoletti systematically developed a more efficient public works system, consolidating 13 highway shops into eight, with 200 workers reduced to 145 through attrition, at a savings to county taxpayers of $5 million. Nine innovative salt barns and a highway shop were built at half the state average cost. A dedicated environmental justice advocate, Spagnoletti led the county’s partnership with Google, bringing in $4.1 million through a greenhouse gas reduction program at the county landfill. The landfill also added nine recycling items, household hazardous waste days and tire amnesty days. Landfill fees are among the lowest in the State.
The county’s $9 million leachate treatment plant was built with 60 percent state funding and the transfer station in Erwin was built with $4 million in negotiated state funding.
Spagnoletti oversaw the construction of 27 buildings and seven picnic pavilions, and the establishment of the Harley Mayo Park at Boyd’s Corners in recognition of the late county Public Works Committee Chair Legislator Harley Mayo, R-Jasper. Spagnoletti’s personal integrity translated toward the departmental employees, bringing his team to legislative committee meetings and publicly crediting them for their accomplishments. “He encouraged all employees to perform at the peak of their abilities,” Orcutt said. “He promoted continuing education for all supervisors and employees through training courses and seminars.” The care he gave to the department’s employees went beyond public works skills, Orcutt and Catherman said. “Many people overlook the fact he was empathetic to the personal needs of employees and their families, often going out of his way to befriend them or assist during a difficult situation,” Orcutt said.
With the county now searching for a new commissioner, Spagnoletti has set a high bar for the next one, county officials say. “He did an excellent job for the county,” said county Legislature Public Works Committee Chair Robert Nichols, R-Tuscarora. “He is retiring at the top of his career. He was good for the county.