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Vehicle purchases raise questions for Council members

City Council wants to know process for making decisions on vehicles

By LAURA FREEMAN Reporter Published: February 26, 2017 12:00 AM

Council members approved the purchase of several new vehicles for the city at the Feb. 21 regular Council meeting. All the vehicles were in the approved 2017 budget.

The Hudson Water Department is authorized to purchase a John Deere 310SL rubber tire backhoe loader from Murphy Tractor and Equipment Co. in Canton for $90,636.

The backhoe is used to maintain the water distribution system and grounds maintenance tasks.

The new backhoe will replace the existing 20-year-old backhoe that has reached the end of its usable life. Typically the industry standard for such pieces of equipment range from 12 to 15 years, but due to the city's maintenance program workers were able to extend the replacement schedule, according to legislation.

The backhoe was purchased through the State of Ohio Cooperative Purchasing Program.

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The Public Works Department is authorized to purchase a mini hydraulic excavator from Ohio Cat for $94,400.

The mini hydraulic excavator will be used in the stormwater division. The purchase will eliminate the cost of annually renting the same equipment.

Council member Beth Bigham wanted to know the factors for the decision to buy rather than rent the equipment for about $20,000 a year.

Assistant City Manager for Operations Frank Comeriato said the city looks at costs of maintenance and purchase cost and the fact they need the equipment every year as factors in a purchase compared to leasing for 20 years.

"We don't see the advantage of continually paying $20,000 for a leased piece of equipment we're going to use every year," Comeriato said.

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Bigham wanted more information on costs of insurance, parts, transport, maintenance, storage, etc. which adds up to more than $94,400.

"If I pay $20,000 for next 20 years, I don't think we'll pay $400,000 in maintenance," Comeratio said.

"I'm not convinced," Bigham said.

Comeriato said the city does in-house maintenance on the equipment to keep costs down.

Bigham voted against the resolution.

Discussion over police vehicles

The police department is authorized to purchase three vehicles to replace a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe, a 2014 Ford NGPI-Utility, and a 2004 Dodge Stratus. The new vehicles include a 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe for $34,950, a 2017 Ford Utility Interceptor for $26,670 and a Ford Fusion for $17,953.

Bigham wanted to know why a 2013 and 2014 vehicle were being replaced.

City Manager Jane Howington said police cruisers have high mileage, and the police department annually replaces three vehicles so the vehicles are dependable for regular patrol.

"When you stop doing that, and delay that, it snowballs into a process that makes it difficult and expensive when you have to replace six vehicles instead of three vehicles in one year," Howington said.

Council member William Wooldredge said it would be nice to have the mileage on the vehicles to give Council members an idea of why it is being turned over before voting on the resolution.

Council member Casey Weinstein agreed with Bigham and wanted more information about the decision process for replacing vehicles and why they needed SUVs.

Mayor David Basil said the city tried other vehicles, but they didn't work out so well.

Council member Alex Kelemen said he would like to see large capital purchases brought before Council earlier.

"Now we're under emergency," Kelemen said. "We're stuck in a hard place even if we wanted to do something."

If the city knows a purchase is due, Kelemen asked for more information for an "intelligent vote instead of an expedient one."

Bigham voted for the resolution but said if the information was available during the budget process, it should be available before voting on the resolution.

The quote for the backhoe was prepared in July, Bigham said.

The quote is done in summer and put in the budget, which is approved in November and December, Howington said. The city has to wait until January when the new budget takes effect to order the items and the resolution holds the price quoted to the city, requiring the emergency legislation in order to act immediately.

"The emergency [clause] is in keeping that price, but if you don't approve, the price can change," Howington said.

Howington said the capital budget is discussed in July during budget talks.

"We on staff level assumed we have had these conversations in our budget hearings," Howington said. "When Council approves the budget, including the capital, we assume those questions are answered. [Questions] coming up now is a surprise."

Other authorizations

The city is authorized to purchase five fleet vehicles.

Hudson Community Television is authorized to purchase a Ford Transit van from Montrose Auto Group for $27,073 to replace a Hudson Community Television 2003 vehicle which is rusted and falling apart.

Hudson Public Power is authorized to purchase a Ford Transit van from Montrose Auto Group for $28,411 to replace a 2006 truck per rotation intervals. The old truck will be recycled for another use.

The Service Department is authorized to purchase a Ford F250 vehicle with a plow from Montrose Auto Group for $35,001 to replace a 2003 rusted vehicle.

Also the Service Department is authorized to purchase a Freightliner Cab and Chassis from Valley Freightliner for $88,365 to replace a snow plow truck which has safety issues and high repair costs. Additional equipment for plowing, salting and brine application are an additional $191,681 from Concord Road Equipment.

In addition the Service Department is authorized to purchase a Ford F550 Cab and Chassis from Montrose Auto Group for $36,511 to replace a 2003 vehicle which has high repair costs. Additional equipment for water main repairs are an additional $38,411 from Zoresco Equipment Co.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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