One councilwoman expressed concern during the borough’s council meeting last week that employees from the had failed tests that would have qualified them to administer pesticides.
Councilwoman Jo-Ann Pituch said she did not understand how the two employees could have failed the tests on March 24 even after she provided them with study materials in October.
Pituch, who works for the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, said she was also annoyed that it took them so long to take the test.
“We didn’t have any snowfall or any problems this winter,” she said. “This all could have been done by January, maybe February at the latest.”
Pituch also expressed anger that she was not notified about the test results until long after the employees were informed. However, Borough Administrator Ted Ehrenburg said she was not purposely left out, explaining that he was out of the state when the results were received on March 26 and that DPW Superintendent Al Gallagher didn’t return to work from a temporary leave until April 1.
Pituch brought up the failed tests during discussion of the borough's turf program and the awarding of a contract to lay down fertilizer. Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy explained and reiterated throughout the discussion that the Integrated Pest Management test only allows for the use of pesticides – not fertilizer – and had no bearings on the turf program contract.
“They could have passed, and we could be doing it,” Pituch said. “I don’t care what you’re trying to tell me.”
Dunleavy told the council that he and Ehrenburg had done the “homework” to gather the information Pituch wanted, but that she was not satisfied with the answers. As a result, he told the councilwoman he could not help her anymore.
“Well I’m going to help you by saying no to voting to hire somebody to do the work our DPW guys are supposed to do,” Pituch said.
The councilwoman was ultimately the only member to vote against awarding the turf program contract.
Dunleavy also reminded the council that the test can be taken again in June, to which Pituch suggested that “we wait until October and make it an anniversary.”
After Pituch said June would be too late, both Council President Glenn Schiffman and Councilwoman Linda Shortman said it would be best to keep the process moving, while Councilman Ray Yazdi said it’s only late “if you want to sit back and complain.”
“I don’t want to talk about fertilizer for four hours,” Schiffman said.
Both Dunleavy and Yazdi asked Pituch to overlook the process going forward due to her familiarity with the subject. Pituch agreed to meet with the three DPW employees at her office to further help them through the process. She also agreed to prepare a letter for the council with all relevant information on the topic, including the next test date.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated three employees took the test.