West Haven layoffs and furloughs have city struggling to provide services

City trucks parked outside the West Haven Public Works Garage on Collis Street in West Haven.

City trucks parked outside the West Haven Public Works Garage on Collis Street in West Haven.

The same personnel issues that created the recent crisis down at the beachside bathrooms at Savin Rock has left brush and leaves on city curbs, often for days, as the city struggles with too few workers to pick it all up.

City officials issued a plea this week for residents to be patient and said city employees are working to try to get to all of it.

The problem, as was the problem when the bathrooms were locked on weekends, is that as a result of union rules activated by the fiscally challenged city’s recent layoffs and furloughs, West Haven is not allowed to hire the seasonal workers it normally depends on in summer.

As a result, the weekly pickups of brush, yard waste and other compostable items are being done entirely by the city’s regular public works employees during their normal working hours, said Mayor Nancy Rossi and acting Public Works Commissioner Lou Esposito.

“Lou and I are aware of the issues and are requesting the patience of residents while our staff continues their pickups,” Rossi said in a written release.

As a result of the city being prohibited from hiring the seasonal workers it usually relies on for added summer tasks, the Department of Public Works “must use their limited resources carefully,” Rossi said.

Esposito said in the release that residents also have the option to bring bagged leaves, grass clippings and untied brush to the city’s compost site at 1 Kimberly Ave. from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

All leaf bags and brush are disposed of at the compost site, where a machine grinds them into compost. The finished compost is free to all West Haven residents with proof of residence.

Esposito said the situation has been exacerbated because the June 29 furlough day for West Haven’s public employees as well as the July 4 holiday and the threat of flash flooding on July 6 disrupted the usual pickup schedule.

Both June 29 and July 6 were Fridays, which particularly impacted residents in the 9th and 10th Districtswhose normal pickup day is Friday, Esposito said in the release.

He reminded residents to place only leaves and grass clippings in biodegradable bags. Brush and branches should be tied in small bundles. Logs and stumps will not be picked up.

“Crews will not pick up leaf bags containing anything other than leaves and grass clippings,” Esposito said in the release. “No sticks, no branches, no sand, no rocks, no dirt. Also, please do not expect your leaf bags to be picked up if you put them out late.”

Additional information about the city’s trash and recycling guidelines is available at www.cityofwesthaven.com/260/Bulk-Trash-Pickup.