When the taxpayers of Nether Providence Township, Pa. see their parks being maintained, streets repaired, signs replaced, leaves collected, and snow plowed, most probably don’t realize it’s all being done by the same nine people. For Public Works Director Darryl Dixon and his eight-man team, being self-sufficient is a point of pride.
With a budget of $1.3 million, the staff services 4.7 square miles for 13,000 residents, roughly 15 miles southwest of Philadelphia. Dixon credits longevity for the team’s range of skills. As a 22-year veteran of the department, his tenure is topped by at least three others with more than 30 years on the job.
Each employee specializes in a certain field: paving repairs (for 46 miles of township roads), sewers (inspection, cleaning, repairs, and installation), and maintaining the township building, five parks, and two open-space parks (60-plus acres). A part-time mechanic services 17 highway and police vehicles and seven leaf machines. With such a small group, cross training is vital. “We all learn as much as we can about each other’s jobs,” Dixon says.
The department strives to save time and money by bringing services in-house, such as using a special printer and sign machine to produce new street signs within minutes. This year, Assistant PW Director, Frank Freeman, saved thousands of dollars by devising a 750-gallon brine system and two brine applicators that mount on existing vehicles.
For the past 15 years, the department has generated $30,000-35,000 annually by collecting and composting leaves, and then selling the mulch. The township splits the land lease and equipment expenses with nearby Swarthmore.
“We have one of the hardest working crews around,” says Dixon. “Our township manager and board of commissioners really appreciate our efforts. And we even get compliments from residents.”