Winter Expenses Pile Up in 2014 Budget for Washington Twp.

Overtime, salt materials in January and February rack up $240K.

Washington Township’s spending plan for the 2014 fiscal year may as well be called the winter blues budget.

Midday temperatures went well above the 50-degree mark this week, melting feet of snow that had been lingering since January and February. It was those storms – the ones that closed schools seven times and dug tire-eating craters in the pavement – that have also wreaked havoc on the budget.

After a month’s worth of weekly meetings, preliminary numbers have been penciled in by the Washington Township Committee from the police department, department of public works, and fire and first aid squads.

Some 70-percent of the capital improvement budget is going to road fixes, as reported here earlier this week.

The lion’s share of new costs between the three departments named will be going toward the department of public works. Road materials like salt and grit needed to combat the winter storms cost $150,000, according to township administrator Andrew Coppola. On top of that, overtime costs from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 for the department of public works, most of which was needed for road cleaning and snow removal, comes in at $90,190. Both those costs will be part of the 2014 budget.

The DPW also requested a new 5,000-gallon liquid storage tank at a cost of $8,400. Also requested were two pre-storm spreaders that will allow employees to treat the roads with a mixture called slurry prior to precipitation accumulating. Each spreader comes with a $21,980 price tag for a total of $43,990. The department has also requested a pick-up truck for $29,000.

The police department requested four new vehicles and an SUV as part of its annual replacement plan. The township committee has tentatively approved three patrol cars and the SUV, Coppola said.

The Washington Township Fire Department, which includes three fire companies, requested the refurbishment of a Quint truck, the committee couldn’t commit the estimated $225,000 but instead put aside $25,000 for the project to be conducted at a later date.

Nine sets of fireman’s gear was requested at a cost of $24,000, along with 15 pagers with a total price tag of $8,000, Coppola said. New hoses were also needed and were requested for $13,500.

The department requested a full replacement of a fire truck for $550,000 but was denied, Coppola said.

Just one request came from the First Aid Squad – an estimated $150,000 replacement rescue truck. That was denied by the committee.

Most requests were accepted and will find a place in the budget, which is tentatively projected to total $16,050,000, a 1.9-percent increase over last year. 

The township committee is expected to introduce its proposed budget at its March 17 regular meeting at the municipal building at 7:30 p.m.


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