LITTLE VALLEY - When a traveler stops at a gas station, a sticker is always visible on the pump. That sticker has a meaning and a process attached to it. Many see the stickers and see them as a sign that the gallon dispensed is really a gallon. There are so many other functions of the department responsible for that sticker, and in Cattaraugus County, that responsibility rests on one person.
With about 2,000 devices, ranging from scales to gas pumps, even truck scales, that must be inspected on a regular basis, Allen Halliday, the Cattaraugus County director of Weights and Measures, has a daunting task at hand.
In 2004, Halliday had a couple people to help with the mission of his department. Because of budgetary concerns, those positions were cut, leaving the weight of the job on his shoulders. To add to that problem, the cities of Salamanca and Olean had their own weights and measures departments at that time. Those have now been dissolved in favor of the County system.
"Not only do we have devices that have to be maintained, under the State Agriculture and Markets law, but we have other places that would like to have their devices checked for accuracy, as well," he said. "That takes time to do."
Some legislators have questioned if one person can adequately do the job with all of the requirements for the state level and the territory that must be covered throughout the county.
Halliday said, "I can't keep up, but I do what I can. I have done everything in my control to streamline the process and make sure devices under the state laws are maintained."
That means some other places may suffer on a lack of time to be able to inspect. Places that have scales that do not fall into the Ag and Markets law that want to show their clients that their devices are completely accurate have to take a seat behind gas pumps and grocery store deli scales.
Halliday said he has a touchy job with gas pumps in the city of Salamanca. Those devices are on the sovereign territory of the Seneca Nation and his presence can create tensions. Halliday said he has relegated to the local authority on those pumps. All other stations in the county are fully inspected, though.
Not only does Halliday have to go from place to place and make sure customers are getting what they pay for, periodically, he has to take his measurement devices to Albany to have them calibrated to ensure their ability to test devices around the county.
One of the things that is still a work in progress is hitting the benchmark established by New York state for compliance of devices.
"In Cattaraugus County, we are at about 88 percent in compliance with tolerances on devices," Halliday said. "New York state would like to see 90 percent."
Merchants that are not in compliance can be faced with civil penalties ranging from $25 fines to $600 fines and the loss of the ability to use the device until it passes inspection. While every device has mandatory inspection time frames, one other thing makes Halliday's job a bit more intense. Every time a device, such as a scale, is opened up to be repaired, it has to be tested and sealed before it can be placed back in service to deal out proper portions to those in Cattaraugus County once again.