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Bridgeport official seeks more snow plow drivers

Updated 6:54 am, Wednesday, April 17, 2013
  • Bridgeport Public Facilities Manager Charles Carroll said the city does not have enough drivers to plow city streets. Bridgeport came under severe criticism for long delays in clearing city streets after 30 inches of snow fell in the February 2013 blizzard. “We don’t have enough people to drive the trucks we have. We just don’t have them,” Carroll told the City Council’s Budget Committee on April 16, 2013. Photo: Cathy Zuraw / Connecticut Post
    Bridgeport Public Facilities Manager Charles Carroll said the city does not have enough drivers to plow city streets. Bridgeport came under severe criticism for long delays in clearing city streets after 30 inches of snow fell in the February 2013 blizzard. “We don’t have enough people to drive the trucks we have. We just don’t have them,” Carroll told the City Council’s Budget Committee on April 16, 2013. Photo: Cathy Zuraw

 

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BRIDGEPORT -- February's blizzard may finally force the city to hire more plow operators in the road maintenance department.

"We don't have enough people to drive the trucks we have. We just don't have them," Public Facilities Manager Charles Carroll told the City Council's Budget Committee Tuesday.

The council is meeting almost daily with city department heads to discuss Mayor Bill Finch's 2013-14 budget, and Tuesday was Carroll's turn in the spotlight. His agency includes road maintenance, which is in charge of cleaning and repairing the city streets year round.

It was not long before the budget conversation turned to early February, when 30 inches of snow shut down Bridgeport for a week and the Finch administration pledged to do better to clear the city's streets.

"We had a horrible blizzard that paralyzed the city for a number of days," said Councilman Angel dePara, D-136, a Budget Committee chairman. "What did we learn that will help the creation of the new snow policy?"

Carroll and his staff said they have been consulting with Hartford, Waterbury and Buffalo, N.Y., to learn their best snow removal practices.

One solution, they said, would be to finally fill six vacant road maintenance jobs that have been budgeted, but not advertised.

"Why are these vacancies not filled?" said council President Thomas McCarthy, D-133.

"You're asking the wrong people," Carroll said.

"So the position request form isn't being signed by the mayor?" McCarthy said.

"It stops someplace," said Carroll.

The staffing problem is not a revelation. Prior years' road maintenance budgets noted that efforts to make the plow routes more efficient were stymied by a lack of manpower.

Carroll said when the length of Bridgeport plow routes are compared to those of other municipalities, "We're pushing our people, we believe, too far because we don't have enough people to do it."

And it is not only a problem during the winter. Carroll said the lack of staff affects sanitation pickups.

Although the council is trying to cut Finch's budget and the related $400 average tax hike, members Tuesday indicated they wanted to find a way to convince the administration to fill the six positions.

"It's a tipping point," said dePara.

"If we need them, we need them," said Councilwoman Lydia Martinez, D-137.

Brian.lockhart@scni.com; 203-414-0712; http://twitter.com/blockhart1