On Thursday night, he agreed with his constituents.
“Before you interpret that as a blanket indictment of our West Deptford workforce, you are mistaken,” Chintall said when addressing the issue at Thursday night’s committee meeting.
Chintall said the late-falling leaves and the early snowfall affected leaf collection not just in the township, but throughout the area. He said he is requesting detailed information on leaf collection from the township Department of Public Works.
Chintall noted that two of the township’s three leaf collection machines were broken, but have since been repaired. One suffered a broken impeller, he said and the other broke by human error, possibly due to a lack of training.
Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo, who chairs the public works committee, reminded Chintall that she'd told him for two years they needed new equipment. Chintall countered that a brand new machine still would have suffered from a broken impeller.
DiCarlo also pointed to last year’s budget cuts, which saw the leaf collection budget fall from from $100,000 to $40,000. The township collects leaves in three rounds, and had to allow some public works employees overtime on Dec. 28 to ensure complete leaf pickup.
Weather didn’t permit earlier pickup, due to multiple days of snowfall and severe weather warnings that brought with it icy roads and associated dangers.
Still, DiCarlo argued, overtime should’ve been implemented earlier.
“You performed well in an emergency situation, but it was a situation of your own doing,” DiCarlo told Chintall.
“In prior years, we had seasonal employees handle leaves and work weekends...if you’re going to tell us we can’t pick up leaves on Saturdays, that’s going to have an impact.”
Chintall said the decision to use overtime should be left up to management.
Initially, he said, the promise of overtime might lead to employees not working hard to get done quickly so they could pick up some overtime, but later clarified that he was speaking from his personal experience.
“I wasn’t directing that statement to our workers,” Chintall said following Thursday’s meeting. “Our workers work hard.”
The two broken leaf vacuum machines have been repaired, according to Chintall.