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Budget spat wipes out toilet paper supplies in New Jersey's capital city

A budget battle in New Jersey's capital city has some extremely unpleasant fallout, including a toilet paper shortage at police headquarters, fire stations, senior centers and municipal offices.

"It's serious right now," Lauren Ira, spokeswoman for the city administration of Trenton, said on Tuesday.

Supplies have been dwindling down to almost nothing in the months since a spending fight broke out among the City Council in November over a $42,000 spending request for a year's supply of paper products, including toilet paper.

“I’m embarrassed,” Council president Kathy McBride told the Times of Trenton. “I’m a little disgusted, and I feel we’re doing an injustice to the residents of the city and the employees.”

 Paper towel and toilet paper dispensers in the city senior centers, police department, fire department, museum, water filtration plant and City Hall aren't expected to last through the week, McBride and maintenance supervisor Paul Heater told the newspaper.

Detective George Dzurkoc painted a desperate picture of conditions at police headquarters. He said the men's rooms are completely bare and just a few rolls are left in the women's rooms.

Dzurkoc, head of the city's Policemen's Benevolent Association, filed complaints Tuesday morning with the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration and the state Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Program.

"The bottom line is they have a health issue knocking at the door," Dzurkoc said.

The City Council was scheduled to meet late on Tuesday to reconsider the spending request which has been stalled in debate each of the three times it came up for a vote since November. At issue was a line in the spending resolution that included a high unit price for hot drink cups.

“We questioned the cost and why they needed them,” North Ward Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson told the Times of Trenton.

That line has since been removed, but the debate has reportedly already tainted the city's reputation. “It is another black eye the city just doesn’t need,” Caldwell-Wilson told the newspaper.

Dzurkoc told the newspaper he couldn't believe that supplies could be held up by a dispute over cup prices.

“They’re just ridiculous over cups,” he said.  “It’s a circus-like atmosphere for sure.”

This article includes reporting from msnbc.com staff and Reuters.

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