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CNBNews Opinion: Save Gloucester City Taxpayers Money, Do Away with the Street Sweepers

(UPDATED JANUARY 15, 2019)

William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet

In 2007, the first full year of our blog we tackled the controversial topic of the City's street sweepers and the parking tickets issued for blocking the sweepers. Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 15.23.08

That year the Gloucester City Court Administrator released the following information: 

"Since January until the end of August, the Police Department has issued a total of 4,168 citations for parking violations for an average of 521 tickets a month.  There is a $25 fine for violating the law. The City has collected $13,025 a month (521 tickets x $25). Times that amount by eight months the total is $104,200.  If that pace continues the City Police/Courts will collect $156,300 for the year from parking fines. Incidentally, sometimes the fine for the violation is more so the estimated figure is on the low side."

Related: Change Gloucester City’s No Parking Ordinance

Recently we submitted an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) request to update those numbers.  The fine for blocking the sweeper remains at $25.

 

We also asked for other data such as the salaries for the operators of the sweepers, the salary for the Parking Enforcement Office (PEO), and the cost to fuel the equipment. The purchase price of the sweepers and the date they were purchased.

There are two street sweepers and two operators. The annual salary for each driver is $60,255 (that doesn't include health benefits). Both men work 40 hours per week.  The PEO, a part-time position with no benefits, works 23 hours per week. The position pays $13.26 per hour or $15,859 annually.

Presently diesel fuel is costing city taxpayers $2.36 a gallon, according to Kathy Jentsch, the City's custodian of records. In 2017 diesel fuel cost on average $1.83 a gallon.

In 2006 the city purchased a 2006 Elgin for $125,000. It is in operation three days a week and uses on average between 600 and 700 gallons of diesel a year. Annual fuel cost approximately $ 1,652.

The newest sweeper, a 2011 Elgin was purchased for $175,000. It is in operation four days a week and uses between 1,200 to 1,300 gallons a year. Annual fuel cost approximately $3,068. 

Wednesday is a maintenance day for both sweepers. 

How many parking tickets were issued for the period of 2014 up until November 28, 2018, the date of our OPRA request? And how much revenue was received from those tickets for the same period? 

 

YEAR         Total No. of Tickets issued     TOTAL REVENUE        

2014-               1,924                                  $1,220        

2015                 2,329                                    1,506

2016                 2,137                                    1,366

2017                 2,162                                    1,382

2018                 1,688                                     1,178

up until 11-28-18    

 

Gloucester City Police Chief Brian Morrell said he didn't know why there was such a difference in the number of tickets written in 2007 compared to 2018. "Please note that I had to contact the Gloucester City Municipal Court for these figures," said Morrell. "We provided the answer based upon the number of street sweeper tickets issued by the PEO. It is not possible to provide the number written by our police officers because the Ordinance 87-10 is written for other violations."

Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 12.10.10
Similar to the city's sweeper (CNBNews graphics file)     

Because of the age of both sweepers, they are constantly breaking down. And when they do operate there are many days that the street looks worst after the sweeper has past.

Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 12.8.54source: https://procure.ohio.gov/pricelist/800246pricelist.pdf

The cost of a new Elgin sweeper would range between $183,000 and $200,000. The car that the PEO uses, a 1996 Ford SUV,  was broken down recently for five weeks. Sooner than later that vehicle will need to be replaced too. Estimated cost $25,000.

In 2007 and several years after we asked the public whether or not the time had come to do away with this service; use the money saved towards cutting taxes or funding other projects.  The majority of the responses we received were in favor of discontinuing it. 

What would happen to the two operators? They can be utilized in the highway department doing other jobs. Presently they are assigned to those other jobs now whenever it snows, rains or the sweeper is broken down. 

Prior to being elected as mayor, candidate Bill James inferred that he too was in favor of eliminating the sweeper service. 

In that 2006 interview, James told this reporter how difficult it was for his family to unload groceries on a rainy day when there was no parking on his side of the street. The mayor, who lives on Monmouth Street,  said he has to park in the library lot and carry the groceries across the street in the rain to his house. He had promised if elected, that once he took care of more pressing problems he was going to see about changing the No Parking ordinance.

Eleven years later the costly sweeper system is still in operation. Because of the age of the sweepers, it is apparent that both vehicles will have to be replaced in the not too distance future. Hopefully, our newly elected mayor, Dan Spencer, will take a look at this problem. Because of the costs to operate the street sweepers, it is our opinion that considerable thought should be given to doing away with this service. 

 

Add to the equation the fact that residents on the east side of Route 130 (Cypress Gardens, Park Avenue, etc) only see the sweeper once a month. Also, there is no sweeper service in the communities of Brooklawn and Westville. 

According to citydata.com Gloucester City's estimated per capita income in 2016 is $24,427 (it was $16,912 in 2000). Point being if more affluent communities can't afford the luxury of having a street sweeper how can we?

As for the two employees who operate the sweepers they can be utilized in the highway department doing other jobs. Presently they are assigned to those other jobs now whenever it snows, rains or the sweeper is broken down. You can realize further savings by not filling their positions when they retire. 

The City's 2018 Friendly budget totaled approximately $23 million. Of that amount, $13 million went towards salaries and benefits for the 109 full-time employees and 77 part-time employees. Part-time employees do not receive health benefits. However, for some strange reason members of council do receive that perk for themselves and their families even though the council position is part-time. If they elect not to take the health benefits they get paid a stipend.

What is your opinion? 

Should the sweeper operation be discontinued? The savings could be used to repave the many broken streets in our city. 

Or should we spend an estimated $500,000 and buy new equipment?

Below are some comments on the sweeper controversy received in 2007.

Related: Change Gloucester City’s No Parking Ordinance

No More Sweeper! said...

At this time of rising property taxes and other cities don't even have a street sweeper. The thing has been a waste of money and an extra tax on anyone, well anyone on certain streets to get a ticket or taxed etc. Cut some of the waste in our city government and stop the overtaxing. Next time instead of an Irish Fest at the park, we're going to have the Gloucester Tea Party. I know the Mayor and Council have pressing problems, do away with the sweeper"S", the meter maid's vehicle and the employees. PLUS** We can JUNK those signs and make some money instead of replacing them. Put the employees in another position a useful one. Last week I saw a bunch of Gloucester Catholic kids that mistakenly parked their cars on a side of the street and you guessed it, you can hardly read the signs, but hey the city made probably $300 just that day from people already Paying Tuition to come to our city.

I have faith in the James Team. Take the Bull by the Horns and do away with all this sweeper nonsense and make ticket people who don't clean in front of their curbing. Sell the Sweepers, and Ticket Vehicle we'll get some cash in the city budget, and Save Thousands in Gasoline, Maintenance, Insurance, Payroll. Bill, who do I have to call the water department to fix the hole in Gloucester City's Payroll?

Cathy said...

I agree with Mr. Cleary! Do away with the sweeper and parking violations.

I recently moved to Gloucester City after residing in Brooklawn for 20 years, my reason was my kids were to be in GHS and were playing sports for the city. My family thought at the time Gloucester City was a great place to live "City of Champions" and hard working people.

The day I moved into our new residence a Monday I was given as well as 2 other vehicles that helped us move, were given violations. The first day of our new residence and we received tickets. (we did not even know the ordinance and never saw the sign) I

Dirty Street said...

I moved my car this morning, like I do every Thursday for the Sweeper, but came home to find a dirty street. The same discarded flowers/weeds that were there on Wednesday night were lying in the street at my neighbor's curb. Another neighbor said she saw the sweeper come by. As a taxpayer and responsible adult, I expect this employee to do a decent job!!!! He /she should be held accountable for their performance. North King Street is not cleaned as thoroughly as other neighborhoods in town. What gives?

 

RELATED: 

 DO AWAY WITH GLOUCESTER CITY'S NO PARKING ORDINANCE; ANOTHER TAX

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