Imbriaco & Marra: “Leaves are YOUR problem now!”

At tonight’s Clinton Township council meeting, Mayor Kevin Cimei once again tried to get the council to approve buying replacement equipment for doing leaf pickup each fall. Only one of the Township’s leaf machines works — the others are worn out, broken, inoperable. Without new equipment, there will be no leaf pickup this fall.

Tonight and at the last council meeting, councilmen Jim Imbriaco and Peter Marra made it clear: Your leaves are your problem now. The two refused to support continuing leaf pickup, but scratched their heads and came up with “great alternatives” for residents who begged the council to continue the program:

1. Mulch your leaves in your own yard: One resident explained he already does that, but his two mulch piles — 6X6 and 10X20 — can’t handle all his leaves. He counts on leaf pickup.

2. Bring your leaves to a central leaf depot: Except the Township has no leaf depot where residents can take their own leaves. The one used by the Department of Public Works (DPW) will not accept bagged leaves or any leaves from residents. Imbriaco and Marra grappled with this one — until Imbriaco suggested that maybe the Township can find somewhere for residents to take their leaves. He just doesn’t know where.

Another resident asked what size vehicle the duo thought would be required to “move” his estimated 7,500 cubic feet of leaves — and that’s just half the leaves from his yard. He said he mulches the rest, but 7,500 cubic feet won’t fit into his pickup, even with several trips to… where?

3. Hire a company to take your leaves. Imbriaco, Marra and councilman Harmen Vos think this is a great idea. (Vos runs his own landscaping business — EXCELLENT idea!) Pa-y-y-y-y!

The mayor explained that replacement equipment would cost about $80,000 with a life expectancy of 25 years. The amortized annual cost to buy the necessary equipment to continue doing leaf pickup would be about $4,000 per year to the Township, or about $1 per year per household.

Another resident pointed out that leaves that don’t get picked up will blow from yard to yard and into streets and roads, drainage gulleys and stormwater drains and detention basins. The cost to the Township is unknown, because NJ DEP regulations require stormwater systems to be kept clear — DPW will have to clean up when leaves clog these systems.

The head of the DPW department explained that it takes a crew of 8 working 8 hour days for 2 months to do the annual leaf pickup. It’s clear a lot of Clinton Township residents use and rely on this service every fall. (The mayor, who supports leaf pickup, says he gets more complaints about leaf pickup than any other topic.)

But naysayers Imbriaco and Marra — who seem to view this proudly as an accomplishment in saving tax dollars — have not investigated any alternatives. It’s clear the only “work” they put into this happened at the council meeting — ideas off the top of their heads. Imbriaco and Marra suggest that you hire a private company to come remove your leaves — and forget about economy of scale and the savings only a municipality enjoys by having existing employees do the work… at a cost for equipment of about $1 per household per year.

Mayor Cimei pointed out that without immediate action to allocate funds to buy the replacement equipment, the “window” has closed for this year. He made a motion to make the purchase, but no one seconded it. The motion died.

The DPW chief stated that if equipment is not ordered immediately, it will not arrive in time for this fall’s leaf pickup.

You pay taxes in Clinton Township — a lot of taxes. And if you have a house and a yard and trees, you count on leaf pickup every fall. But starting this year, you’re on your own. Your leaves are your problem now. And, uh, don’t forget to pay your tax bill by August 25.

Councilmen Jim Imbriaco and Peter Marra will be running for re-election in the June 2012 Primary.

It’s too late this year for leaf pickup in the fall. If you want leaf pick-up for Fall 2012 — Elect 2 new council members in Spring 2012!


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