In December of 2018, I highlighted a number of issues regarding staffing, duties and responsibilities, efficiencies and other matters that could improve the delivery of services within our Department of Public Works (DPW) for our Township residents. Some of the areas needed better management and required an experienced public works director to provide analysis and recommendations on how we could streamline the DPW. It made sense to rely on the expertise of a director who was intimately familiar with the Township, the position of Director, as well as the employees - and that created the foundation of our shared service agreement with Union County.   

My goal was to also offer senior staff members opportunities for professional growth, promotion, increased responsibilities and stimulate morale. With the adoption of the DPW union contract late in 2019, we were able to keep our promise.  Further, as we completed our labor negotiations, I encouraged some members of the DPW’s senior staff to pursue a Certified Public Works Manager license. This process can take between 12-18 months to complete. So, I am pleased to report our first staff person – one of our most senior foremen - will be heading to classes on February 24th. We will continually encourage all members of our senior staff in our various departments to attend classes - as our municipal budget allows - to achieve this certification and others, as it only enhances the services for residents, provides a pathway for our employees to lead, and creates a succession plan for when our senior managers retire. 

As Joe Graziano served in the capacity of DPW director over the last year, it has become evident the Township does not require full-time director at this time. This is a direct result of our senior DPW staff moving into positions of leadership, with a range of experience from our General Forman with 35 years of experience to our Assistant General Foreman and Leadmen with over 25 years of experience.  Our well-seasoned staff make it possible for the Township to operate more efficiently under the leadership of a part-time Director and our current shared service agreement.  Not only does this arrangement save money and provide access to additional labor and equipment, it also has a proven track record that our SSA DPW Director can act in both capacities during snow, ice and rain events that have required an intensive public works presence, with such senior employees at the helm with him. The department has outlined a month-by-month schedule of work that they do in any given year – from when the street paver is out, to prime basin repair season, to preparation for summer recreation camps.

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Cost also matters.  The Township is currently realizing a savings of $70,000 in salary plus a savings of approximately $50,000 in health benefits and pension for 2019 - cutting well over $120,000 from our budget.  Moreover, the County has not increased the cost of shared service agreement in 2020. In contrast, if the Township had a full-time director, we would bear the burden of a roughly $100,000/year salary (plus 2-3% increase) as well as $50,000 in benefits and the annual increases that are associated with those costs. You have previously received the 2018 -2019 analysis demonstrating the effectiveness of the SSA plus the 2020 monthly schedule to improve services this year. 

Certainly, the Township’s circumstances could change from year to year; we need to be nimble. I propose that the Township Council evaluate the value of the shared service agreement annually in early December. Because the Township has entered into a unique shared service agreement with the County, we have received the experience, expertise and resources while saving money - without compromising services. What’s more, our employees typically now respond to resident concerns within 24 hours, making our residents extremely satisfied with this level of service.  

Please note that this unique situation is also effective because Joe Graziano is a long-term Township resident and served as the Berkeley Heights Public Works Director from 2000-2006; he is currently the County of Union Public Works director. As a resident, he is particularly committed to ensuring his department operates well, and he has invaluable and historic knowledge of our town. In addition to holding a Certified Public Works Manager, he earned a mini Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University, took courses in transportation planning concepts for public works and transportation engineering at NJIT, is SWANA certified as a Recycling Systems Manager and Manager for Composing Programs, and completed a Core Training Program with the New Jersey Shade Tree and Community Forestry Program at Rutgers. Joe also worked as a construction manager for Roy Kay, Inc. – an experience that has lent value while construction the Municipal Complex which is nearing completion in 2020.  

I look forward to an even better and improved DPW shared service agreement in 2020. The feedback of the Council and residents will only strengthen the department, as well as the aesthetic and infrastructure of Berkeley Heights. 

DPW 2018 VS 2019

REPORT- January 10, 2020 - The below data has been collected to provide information regarding productivity at the Department of Public Works during the year 2018, when a full-time DPW director was employed, and during 2019, when a part-time DPW Director was at the helm, under our shared service agreement with Union County.

In 2019, less overtime was  spent, with fewer employees - saving the township significant amounts of money in overtime and benefits.

The current employees, under the new structure put into place at this department, are operating more efficiently and effectively under the leadership of the General Foreman, Assistant General Foreman, and a team of division foreman and leadmen. Under the SSA, Director Graziano meets with the team, helps them set their goals/assignments for the day, discusses long-term planning with the foreman, goes through budgetary and administrative tasks, and more. Under this structure, the foremen and leadmen have had opportunities to lead and take ownership of the day-to-day tasks.

SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  • Crew roster is currently at 13, one man less than they have had in the past few years (14), yet 2019 overtime was less than in 2018.
  • Utilization of County equipment and resources to tackle projects like paving the driveway to lower Columbia and Park Avenue, and the constantly overflowing storm basin situation on Hillcrest.
  • Employees have access to additional skills training from the County.
  • Access to County bucket truck for more tree trimming, as well as other vehicles when our crew needs it.
  • County pickup of leaves on county roadways, saving manpower and ensuring the crew can get to all township roads at least twice during leaf pickup season.

2018

MONTH:

# OF BASINS REPAIRED

# OF DAYS OF LEAF PICK UP

# OF DAYS SWEEPER OUT

JAN

2

13

3

FEB

2

3

10

MAR

0

1

1

APR

0

0

1

MAY

3

0

8

JUN

10

0

7

JUL

10

0

10

AUG

14

0

11

SEPT

3

0

1

OCT

10

9

4

NOV

0

14

3

DEC

0

15

2

TOTAL:

54

55

61

 

 

2019

 

JAN

5

2

3

FEB

4

0

0

MAR

7

0

2

APR

5

0

1

MAY

2

0

7

JUN

5

0

2

JUL

4

0

5

AUG

7

0

 

10

 

Sept         11                                       0                                                 2