Tale of two budgets

Finance board shows support for privatizing collections

Naugatuck Public Works Director James Stewart, right, presents the department’s 2014-15 budget request Tuesday night to the Board of Finance as burgesses, from left, Bob Burns and Pat Scully look over the numbers. –LUKE MARSHALL

Naugatuck Public Works Director James Stewart, right, presented the department’s 2014-15 budget request Tuesday night to the Board of Finance. Burgesses, from left, Bob Burns and Pat Scully were on hand to listen. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Public Works Director James Stewart presented two options for his department’s 2014-15 budget to the Board of Finance Tuesday night: one with the privatization of trash and recycling collection and one with the department continuing to do the collections.

The consensus of the board was to move forward developing the borough’s budget with the assumption of privatizing collections.

Stewart’s proposal that maintains the status quo is $4.54 million, which is a net increase of $200,000 over the current budget. The largest increase is in regular payroll, which would go up about $208,000 to $2.17 million. 

The figures presented Tuesday that include privatization show a $4.86 million public works budget, an increase of roughly $660,000 over the current budget. The increase comes from hiring a company to collect trash around the borough, which is budgeted to cost approximately $777,000. The numbers did not take into consideration the savings associated with contracting out the collections. Savings in the public works budget are expected to come from positions that would be lost through attrition as well as savings in gas and oil.

The largest saving associated with the change comes under health care, which is a separate line item in the overall municipal budget. If officials decide to go with private collections the public works budget would increase, but the switch will be an overall net savings for the borough over five years.

The expected savings over a five-year period with privatization is estimated at $486,000. 

The idea of looking into privatizing trash and recycling collection was recommended in the borough’s long-term strategic plan, which was completed last year by the consulting firm Blum, Shapiro & Co. Earlier this year, the borough received four bids for the job.

Finance Board Chair Diane Scinto expressed concerns on how moving forward assuming privatization would look since making the change hasn’t been voted on yet.

According to officials, the switch is still being discussed between the borough and union.

“I agree with doing the privatization, but because we are not there yet the numbers that should be in here are what the Department of Public Works is,” Scinto said.

The public works budget request also includes a $10,000 increase for GPS units.

The units will be installed in all 30 of the town’s plow trucks, Stewart said.

“The system will tell you which driver is in the truck, when he’s fueling up, when the plows up, when the plows down, when he’s active, when he’s working his truck, when he’s not,” Stewart said. “They have maintenance tracking functions. Since this thing knows how far the vehicle traveled it can tell you it’s time for an oil change.”

Stewart said the units will help increase employee productivity and accountability.

No decisions were made Tuesday night. More budget hearings will be held in the weeks ahead leading up to adoption of the budget in May.

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