Council Considering Public Works Hiring

Council Committee approves three additions positions; full council to vote Tuesday.


The Legislative Council has been trying to get a few more people added to the ranks of the Public Works Department, but it's been tough.

In the last budget cycle, the council budgeted for three extra positions for the department with the goal of getting an additional snow route added to the 15 already in place. The three additional employees would bring the total number of employees up to 63.

But then, when the mayor's office offered the retirement incentive to fill a hole in the 2012-13 budget, three Public Works employees took the incentive and retired, so even with the additional three employees, the total number of Public Works employees still stood at the original 60.

But now the council is again poised to add the three additional positions, just in time for winter when the additional snow route will be needed. Last week the council's Public Works Committee approved the hirings, and it will go before the full council at a special meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Government Center's third floor conference room.

But some council members weren't comfortable with the additional positions because the funding for this year is supposed to come from the sale of the Conte building, which hasn't yet happened. And in subsequent fiscal years, those positions will be built into the budget. And for all the years, the town will have to absorb the cost of the additional benefits.

"There is no guarantee -- if the building isn't sold and the money isn't allocated, it could come straight out of E&C," said Chief Administrative Officer Curt Balzano Leng, referring to the Emergency and Contingency Account. "But every attempt will be made to make up that money."

There's definitely a need for the additional manpower, said Public Works Director Craig Cesare. His department is responsible for maintenance of all town equipment except for that of the Fire Department, he said, which can get overwhelming.

The town has for years been trying to add the additional snow route, Cesare said, and has been trying to get the Public Works Union to agree to remove riders from the plow trucks and instead use the manpower on the additional route. There's a tentative agreement to that end, he said, because the need for a rider in the plow trucks is no longer there because of changes such as smaller trucks that can easier navigate narrow streets and computerized sanders that don't need a second person to operate.

"We need to remember, we own those positions by contract," Cesare said. "We would rather have them in a truck route rather than sitting in a truck with a driver."

And in the other seasons, there's plenty of work for the employees to do, he said. Right now there's only two employees who are responsible for cutting the grass in over 100 locations across the town, he said, and being able to add manpower to that task would be beneficial.

Ted B November 12, 2012 at 05:51 PM
So apparently the retirement incentive was a waste of time if you're just going to rehire the same number of workers who retired. And paying them from the proceeds of the sale of a building?!? are you kidding me? Is this a joke?
Terrapin November 12, 2012 at 06:23 PM
So even if the Conte building is sold, we will still get to pay for these new positions next year, when there is not another building to sell. And I assume these new hires will be in the union, so there will be no cutting back the payroll. Since there is less and less reason to live in Hamden for this level of taxation, how about giving us a break and not spending money you don't have.
Marietta Mattei November 12, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Stop complaining - you are all happy when leaf bags are picked and streets are plowed - you get what you pay for. Cesare does a good job running PW and he knows what he needs.
Thomas Alegi November 12, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Chief Administrative Officer Curt Leng has just reviled to Hamden residents the real reason when the Conte building on Whitney Ave. is up for sale. Without the money from the sale of Conte, building the town cannot hire three new Public Works employees this year for snow removal. Without the proper work force in the Public Works Department the safely of Hamden residents and non-Hamden residents, who drive the streets of Hamden are at risk this winter. Mayor Jackson did you not think about the safely of the public when you came up with the retirement incentive program to fill the hole in the 2012-13 budget? Hamden resident are now seeing that lower work force levels in the P/W are putting them at risk this winter. Furthermore, Mayor Jackson, your shortsighted thinking regarding Hamden financial issues is the reasons why our taxes are so high here in Hamden. Mr. Leng, you called the second person in Hamden snowplow trucks “riders” as if they are just riding around and being paid. The second P/W employee in a Hamden snowplow truck is there for safety reasons. These so-called “riders” get out of the snowplow trucks and guide the diver of the snowplow truck down Hamden’s narrow streets. Without the safely person in Hamden snowplow trucks damage claims against the town of Hamden would go up by property owners and owners of automobiles. Mr. Leng you and your boss Mayor Jackson need to take a course on public safety ASAP, before someone gets hurt this winter.
Hamdone November 12, 2012 at 07:24 PM
A public employee is an employee forever.
Ellen Nosel November 12, 2012 at 10:59 PM
The town of Hamden needs to get rid of positions that do not affect health and safety, like paper pushers at town hall. Offering incentives for retirement then rehiring people for those same positions when the positions vacated involve health and safety has very little impact on bottom line which is the goal here.
Tony November 13, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Thomas, you may want to re-read the article. First, I think it is saying that the pw has the same number of people now as it did for last winter so I don't think the town was unsafe then, do you? So it can't be a safety issue at play. Also, and I just looked back to make sure,, it is The pw director casare that was advocating getting rid of the riders and if that's his recommendation as director I don't see why anyone would object. I don't have a position one way or the other on the merit of the hiring but the facts should be commented on correctly.
Bamma C. November 13, 2012 at 01:34 AM
We need town employees who are on the front line when it comes to taking care of the town and its people. That's why we need three more P.W employees.The number of town employees we never see is higher than we are aware of. Now don't get defensive. We are very busy with our lives and jobs too. Yet when necessary, we stop our usual routines to deal with things such as snow, leaves etc. Is there anyone willing to come from city hall to help any of us shovel/plow our driveways, pick up litter on the main streets? To take time like we do to help keep our town safe and healthy?


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