Salary, garbage costs drive public works increase


By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

NAUGATUCK — Increases in salaries and the cost to dispose of garbage are driving a proposed substantial hike in the public works’ budget for 2021-22.

Public Works Director James Stewart presented a $6.2 million budget request to the Board of Finance during a workshop March 15. The proposal is an increase of $699,067, or 12.6%, over the department’s budget this fiscal year.

“It’s unfortunate that it increased the way it has, but I think it’s responsible and I’m looking forward from input from the finance board,” Stewart said in a later interview.

The majority of the increase comes from employee wages. Regular payroll is increasing $365,206, or 18.6%, to $2.3 million due to contractual raises. The cost for overtime is projected to go up $67,500, or about 18%, to $435,445. An increase in minimum wage is expected to cost the department and additional $35,182 for some part-time employees.

The cost to dispose of garbage is increasing from $91 a ton to $105 a ton. Officials are also expecting an increase in garbage of 400 tons.

The total cost for tipping fees is expected to increase $164,200, or nearly 20%, to $988,000 in the upcoming fiscal year.

The budget proposal includes an additional worker for the department. Stewart said the position would be someone with a CDL license and construction experience.

Over the past few years, the department has looked to hire more skilled employees to reduce its reliance on outside contractors.

“We’re constantly looking for ways to limit the cost of the future by eliminating more contractors that we use for road improvement and eliminate contractors for snow removal and such,” Stewart said.

The Board of Finance reached a consensus to move forward with the proposal as is for the time being. The board can make changes before and after adopting a budget in April to send to a hearing.

“We’re going to be fiscally responsible and only get what we need, and if there’s things we can cut, we’re going to cut them out,” Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said about the public works budget at the workshop.