Public Works 'Deadline' Extended as Council Looks to Restore Funding
Council members hint at effort to save department
The 77 employees of the township's public works department have been notified that a potential layoff date has been moved to May 15.
A layoff date of April 1 had been set to coincide with a municipal budget proposed by Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis that eliminated the department in favor of utilizing private contractors for services such as solid waste and recycling collection.
The April 1 layoff date represented the earliest date the employees could have been laid off under state civil service laws. The township council, however, has not yet completed its task of making adjustments to the mayor's budget proposal, meaning all township services will continue to function under temporary budgets that mirror last year's operating plan.
The final say on the budget – and whether funding for public works will be restored for 2012 – will come from the township council. There are indications that council members are planning to fund public works under their spending plan, which they will most likely adopt at the April 17 council meeting.
"We're looking to restore the department of public works," said Councilman Jim Fozman, at the council's March 28 meeting. "Along with stabilizing taxes in 2012, we are looking to cut spending in various departments but keeping garbage, trash collection and other services provided by the 77 public workers of the Department of Public Works."
Fozman said the department is "important to the Brick community."
Council President John Ducey said the council has received a good deal of input from township residents on the budget, and the goal is to balance budget cuts with funding restoration for public works.
"One thing that we want to add is the Department of Public Works back into the budget," Ducey said.
Councilman Dan Toth, who has said he will not vote in favor of any budget that eliminates public works, forecasted a budget proposal from the governing body that will save money in multiple areas.
"I believe that when we finally introduce it, it's going to be showing a very good picture for the future of the Township of Brick," Toth said.
If public works funding is not restored, administration officials have said they would propose ordinances to govern private collection of trash and recycling, either through a master contract with one provider for the entire town, or individual contracts between residents and private haulers.