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Oswego DPW Commissioner Seeks To Replenish Fleet

OSWEGO, NY – The Port City’s DPW commissioner wants to keep on truckin’. But, he might have to do it piecemeal.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Administrative Services Committee, Mike Smith, DPW commissioner, requested discussion regarding the purchase of several pieces of equipment.

He gave councilors a list of five vehicles and sander box that he’d like to purchase.

Oswego’s commissioner of the DPW and Parks & Recreation wants to replace some dilapidated city vehicles that have had to be removed from service because of their deteriorated condition.
Oswego’s commissioner of the DPW and Parks & Recreation wants to replace some dilapidated city vehicles that have had to be removed from service because of their deteriorated condition.

“This isn’t a wish list. These are things that I really need,” he said.

He’d probably be bringing more requests before the council in the future, he admitted. But, if he could get this list, it would be very helpful, he said.

“I’d like permission to purchase two new pickups off of state contract,” he told the committee. “They would replace two we’ve already had to take out of service. One is a line item in the current operating budget. We also have a line item in there for a compact pickup that I’d like to move up to a full-sized truck.”

He noted that he has an opportunity to buy a Ferris lawn mower also on state contract for about 30 percent off the retail price.

“This would replace a mower that we had to take out of service (due to extensive needed repairs) that’s about 15 years old,” the commissioner said. “It’s just not worth putting money into repairs for it any more.”

That funding would also come out of the operating budget, he said.

“We’d have to juggle a few dollars around, but we can do that,” he added.

He would like to go out to bid on a reconditioned cab and chassis to make into a combo plow-sander truck by using the plow hardware from a city plow truck recently taken out of service because of its unsafe condition.

“We’ve done this in the past and made some sanding trucks; it has worked out quite well,” Smith said. “This particular request, I am looking to make a plow truck for this winter. We’ve lost a couple; we had to take a couple out of service already.”

He said he believes that the DPW, doing all the work in-house, could get a truck ready to go by November or December.

They would also need to purchase a new sander box to complete the combo truck rebuild.

The cost would be about $45,000 to $55,000 range, he said.

All of that, he said, he’s proposing coming out of the operating budget.

The last vehicle the commissioner would like to buy is a six-wheeled dump truck.

The medium duty truck would replace two that have already been taken out of service, Smith told the committee.

It may cost upwards of $45,000.

“We have some indication that the state might be forthcoming with CHIPS reimbursement as they have in the past,” Smith said. “This purchase would meet all of the criteria to use that money.”

He said he stills hopes to receive some grant funding from the state.

“I have made several trips down to the DPW, walked around and looked at our equipment. Yeah, we’re in tough shape down there, we know that,” said Second Ward Councilor Mike Myers. “Money is going to be an issue, obviously.”

But you also have to look at it from a safety aspect, he added.

“If you get (snow) storm after (snow) storm and then you get breakdowns, you’re looking at the safety for the people of the city,” he said. “I think we really need to look at that and try to help (the DPW commissioner) in any way that we can.”

He praised the commissioner’s efforts to use parts to create working snow removal vehicle for the city.

However, Sixth Ward Councilor Bill Sharkey didn’t share his optimism.

He reminded the committee that the city just bonded for $2.2 million and the city has a large debt among other financial difficulties.

“Sometimes you have to do with what you got. If you have a vehicle that’s needs an oil change, you change the oil. If you need a set of tires, you go buy a set of tires,” he said. “Sooner or later, the taxpayers are going to say, ‘Enough is enough.’”

The DPW has stretched out the repairs on “many, many vehicles as far as they will go,” the commissioner said.

At some point they have reached their limit and have been taken out of service, he added.

“We’ve reached the limit on some of them and they have been taken out of service. It’s that simple,” Smith told the committee.

“These items are more than simply oil changes,” Council President Dan Donovan (Fifth Ward) agreed, adding that the DPW commissioner hasn’t (so far) gone over his budget.

“I certainly appreciate Councilor Sharkey’s position on our overall financial situation. However, at some point you can’t continue to put money into something that you’re not going to be able to get something back,” Smith explained.

If he had to put $15,000 into a truck that isn’t guaranteed getting through one more season; he would rather invest that money in “the next level,” in this case a reconditioned truck, he said.

“We’re not just talking about the DPW here. This is also for the water department and Parks and Recreation. These two (pickup) trucks are part of that overall fleet,” the commissioner explained. “And, they are within the operating budget currently.”

The taxpayers depend on the city to make it possible for them to travel on the city’s streets, Councilor Connie Cosemento said.

Whether it’s fixing potholes or snow removal, they need to be able to travel the roads to get to work,” she said. “We also need for our (city) workers to be safe in the vehicles that they’re driving. Oswego is famous for being ‘Snow City.’ But that’s because of our DPW.”

The committee forwarded the request to the full council for consideration.