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Town reviews purchase requests

JOHN A. BAYLESS, Sierra Sun

Truckee Town Council will review the initial draft of the Department of Public Works Equipment Acquisition Replacement Plan for the years 1998 through 2002 during a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. today.

Public Works Director Tom Covey said the draft shows all equipment needed by the department, but that he knows the town may not be able to afford all of it.

The direction to be taken will be discussed in Thursday’s workshop and the plan modified according to council recommendations.

“It’s what we actually need to do the work,” Covey said “At this point we aren’t able to do some road maintenance because we don’t have the tools. We’re in good shape for winter, but we have very little road maintenance equipment to help keep the roads in good condition in the summer. Even if we can’t afford it right now, I have to recommend what we need.”

Covey said it will be up to the town council to decide the final priorities on spending. Currently the Town of Truckee is spending approximately $550,000 each year in equipment purchases, lease purchases or buy-back arrangements. The draft plan would cost considerably more if implemented in its entirety.

As outlined, it would cost $883,300 to implement the plan in its first year and $666,400 in the next. In the third year, the plan would cost $873,200 and $141,620 in the next. Fifth year spending is estimated at $399,640.

Covey said the town crews run out of time for projects during the spring and summer months because they have to do most work by hand. For example, the crews do not have a woodchipper to grind up roadside shrubs or weeds, forcing them to only deal with vegetation that presents an actual hazard. Now each bit of underbrush must be cut down and removed whole, which wastes time and space.

“One big bush can fill up a dump truck,” Covey said. “And then the drivers have to make several trips.”

He said the crews are also working at a disadvantage when doing paving projects, and shovel tons of asphalt by hand.

“There’s also just one backhoe to handle drainage for 160 miles of streets,” Covey said. “We need another backhoe.” He said Vail Engineering Consultants has estimated the town is falling $1 million behind on road repairs each year.

Covey said a different mix of contract work or leases for snow removal equipment could help reduce some of the cost, along with other options to be considered by the council.

“My agenda is to give the best bang for the buck as I possibly can,” Covey said. “The town council gave me the direction to include all that we needed on the plan.”

Covey said that although the plan looks expensive, in the long run it may not be. Some of the equipment listed at new prices could be purchased used for substantially less.

“We should have the community decide if they want to fix the roads by doing all capital expenditures or expending money for vehicles to do the maintenance,” Covey said. He explained that the council currently uses all left-over funds for road projects, so the purchase of new equipment is in competition with spending for road maintenance.

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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