Public works director seeks to continue filling vacancies


NAUGATUCK — Public Works Director James Stewart wants to spend money on an additional employee to save money in the long run.

Stewart presented a $5.46 million budget request for 2018-19 to the Board of Finance on Monday night. The proposal would increase the public works budget by $244,140, or 4.67 percent, over this fiscal year.

The budget proposal includes filling a position that has been vacant since 2014 for $47,000.

Refilling vacant positions has actually saved the borough money, Stewart said.

“With your support we have been able to replace two positions that have been lost due to the early retirements several years ago,” Stewart told board members. “With the addition of staff we have been able to make some significant improvements in the town and get a significant amount of work done.”

Stewart said the work includes repairs to over 300 catch basins, more paving than has historically happened in the borough, work on Osborne Field and Andrew Mountain Park, and the emergency repair of the Nichols Road culvert.

Stewart said the in-house repair of the culvert alone saved the borough $100,000.

“We did all that while we have been doing our regular duties of cutting brush, sweeping streets, repairing potholes, plowing snow and responding to storms,” Stewart said.

Stewart said having extra manpower allows the department to rely less on contractors, which can be costly.

“We continue to find contractors are extremely expensive and they are unreliable. They don’t show up when we need them. Public works staff can complete the work that contractors do for less cost, even when they are on overtime,” Stewart said.

The budget also adds $10,000 to the overtime parks maintenance and street maintenance line items, increasing them to $52,514 and $65,000 respectively.

Stewart said the increases will allow public works employees to work on a variety of projects the borough would otherwise have to hire contractors to do.

“We feel that the overtime is beneficial. It gets work done that we can’t get done on normal time and it saves us contractor billing,” Stewart said.

There is also a nearly $44,000 increase in tipping fees, which municipalities pay to dispose of trash, bringing the total to $650,240.

Stewart said the reason for the increase is two-fold.

Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority, which disposes of the borough’s trash, has increased its tipping fees by $4 to $72 a ton.

In addition, the borough saw an increase of 300 tons of trash in the past couple years, Stewart said.

Assistant to the Director of Public Works Sandra Lucas-Ribeiro said the increase is due in large part to residents putting recyclables in their trash barrels.

While the amount of trash being disposed has increased, Lucas-Ribeiro said the amount of recyclables, which the town does not pay a tipping fee for, has decreased.

The budget also includes $35,395 split between 11 small capital items, including replacement sprinkler heads for the Hop Brook Golf Course, a walk-behind snow blower, and road plates that can cover a hole in a road while work is taking place.