OSWEGO, NY â€“ The Port Cityâ€™s DPW commissioner wants to keep on truckinâ€™. But, he might have to do it piecemeal.
At Monday nightâ€™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 heâ€™d like to purchase.
â€œThis isnâ€™t a wish list. These are things that I really need,â€ he said.
Heâ€™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.
â€œIâ€™d like permission to purchase two new pickups off of state contract,â€ he told the committee. â€œThey would replace two weâ€™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 Iâ€™d like to move up to a full-sized truck.â€
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.
â€œThis would replace a mower that we had to take out of service (due to extensive needed repairs) thatâ€™s about 15 years old,â€ the commissioner said. â€œItâ€™s just not worth putting money into repairs for it any more.â€
That funding would also come out of the operating budget, he said.
â€œWeâ€™d have to juggle a few dollars around, but we can do that,â€ 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.
â€œWeâ€™ve done this in the past and made some sanding trucks; it has worked out quite well,â€ Smith said. â€œThis particular request, I am looking to make a plow truck for this winter. Weâ€™ve lost a couple; we had to take a couple out of service already.â€
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, heâ€™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.
â€œWe have some indication that the state might be forthcoming with CHIPS reimbursement as they have in the past,â€ Smith said. â€œThis purchase would meet all of the criteria to use that money.â€
He said he stills hopes to receive some grant funding from the state.
â€œI have made several trips down to the DPW, walked around and looked at our equipment. Yeah, weâ€™re in tough shape down there, we know that,â€ said Second Ward Councilor Mike Myers. â€œMoney is going to be an issue, obviously.â€
But you also have to look at it from a safety aspect, he added.
â€œIf you get (snow) storm after (snow) storm and then you get breakdowns, youâ€™re looking at the safety for the people of the city,â€ he said. â€œI think we really need to look at that and try to help (the DPW commissioner) in any way that we can.â€
He praised the commissionerâ€™s efforts to use parts to create working snow removal vehicle for the city.
However, Sixth Ward Councilor Bill Sharkey didnâ€™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.
â€œSometimes you have to do with what you got. If you have a vehicle thatâ€™s needs an oil change, you change the oil. If you need a set of tires, you go buy a set of tires,â€ he said. â€œSooner or later, the taxpayers are going to say, â€˜Enough is enough.â€™â€
The DPW has stretched out the repairs on â€œmany, many vehicles as far as they will go,â€ the commissioner said.
At some point they have reached their limit and have been taken out of service, he added.
â€œWeâ€™ve reached the limit on some of them and they have been taken out of service. Itâ€™s that simple,â€ Smith told the committee.
â€œThese items are more than simply oil changes,â€ Council President Dan Donovan (Fifth Ward) agreed, adding that the DPW commissioner hasnâ€™t (so far) gone over his budget.
â€œI certainly appreciate Councilor Sharkeyâ€™s position on our overall financial situation. However, at some point you canâ€™t continue to put money into something that youâ€™re not going to be able to get something back,â€ Smith explained.
If he had to put $15,000 into a truck that isnâ€™t guaranteed getting through one more season; he would rather invest that money in â€œthe next level,â€ in this case a reconditioned truck, he said.
â€œWeâ€™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,â€ the commissioner explained. â€œAnd, they are within the operating budget currently.â€
The taxpayers depend on the city to make it possible for them to travel on the cityâ€™s streets, Councilor Connie Cosemento said.
Whether itâ€™s fixing potholes or snow removal, they need to be able to travel the roads to get to work,â€ she said. â€œWe also need for our (city) workers to be safe in the vehicles that theyâ€™re driving. Oswego is famous for being â€˜Snow City.â€™ But thatâ€™s because of our DPW.â€
The committee forwarded the request to the full council for consideration.