Budget Battle Leaves US City Without Toilet Paper

By: EW News Desk Team   Date: 13 March 2012

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13 March 2012

Government employees from Trenton city, the capital of New Jersey, which is the third-richest state in the US, could soon face a shortage of toilet paper at their work place after its city council refused to approve a $42,573 contract for paper products from its suppliers.

According to Trenton’s Mayor Tony Mack, the city’s government buildings only have enough toilet paper to last until March 16; and the mayor blamed the city council for nit picking over budget details.

But the city council hit back at Mack by claiming that a $4,000 order from the mayor for paper cups was simply too high, while Mack also allegedly did not provide enough information on the contract for the council to sign off on.

“We’re (the city council) the checks and balances over the administration, and we’re not going to send out any blank checks,” said retired city police officer George Muschal, who represents Trenton’s South Ward, in an interview with Bloomberg.

Muschal added that the city council had been concerned over the fact that the mayor did not solicited bids from Trenton-based suppliers, while fellow council member Kathy McBride said that the mayor’s move had further raised the council's suspicions.

"There's enough blame to go around on both sides," said McBride, as quoted by the BBC. "I always have to function with one goal in mind, and that's I represent the residents of the city."

Trenton’s Mayor Tony Mack took office in July 2010 when he succeeded Doug Palmer, who ran the city for 20 years. Since Mack’s appointment as mayor, the city has undergone six different changes in its business administrators – including one who resigned pending an investigation of allegedly mishandling campaign money.

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The mayor also almost faced a recall election in 2011, when questions began to emerge over his hiring practices. Two whistle-blower lawsuits have been filed against Trenton, with one coming from a former parks employee who was fired for questioning Mack’s bidding procedures and hiring decisions.

Acording to the Times of Trenton, toilet paper shortages have already been reported at City Hall, senior centres, as well as police headquarters. The incident also mirrored a similar case in Newark, New Jersey, in 2010 when then-mayor Cory Booker threatened to stop spending city funds on “everything from printer paper to toilet paper” in order to deal with a $150 million budget gap.

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