2006-08-03 / Front Page

$570K approved for public works equipment

By Dotti Farrington

Town Councilors have approved lease-purchase plans for up to $570,340, less $23,500 in trade-ins, for six major pieces of public works equipment. Council members and Town Administrator Bruce Keiser hailed the plan as a major step in catch-up in the town's long history of putting off major purchases.

Keiser recommended the capital spending package as one of his first budgeting techniques after becoming town manager last winter. He said the lease-purchase plan costs $13,000 a year in interest over the five-year term for a total of $65,000, but that amount will be offset by savings on contractual costs the town has had to pay in the past when its old equipment was broken and out of service. Keiser said the financial plan will also mean more efficient scheduling of the Department of Public Works crew, who will not be faced with large amounts of downtime because of equipment failure.

All of the councilors supported the new approach that grew out of a tour of town holdings for new council members William Kelly, Michael Schnack, and Barbara Szepatowski.

Kelly took the lead in praising Keiser for leading the town through the bidding process that featured the lease plans, trade-in negotiations, attention to details, and in one case, being able to piggyback a Providence bid on a street sweeper. In turn, Keiser credited Public Works Director Steve Goslee and his deputy, Michael Gray, for pursuing all cost-effective options.

Kelly also observed that the morale of the public works crew is already higher "because we're paying attention to them." DPW workers have expressed feelings of being town orphans because of the 25-year, still-unsettled battle over where to put a new town highway barn.

Town officials said the new equipment will give the workers a chance to "show their stuff" because they get frustrated not being able to do all the jobs they are trained and expected to do.

Kelly has been trying to organize an auction of old town equipment, both to get rid of it and to raise some money. He and others expressed their pleasure about the trade-in deals, especially on those items they considered unusable. "Those were smart deals," Kelly said.

The bid awards, as drafted by DPW Deputy Gray, went to:

+ Schmidt Equipment of Swansea, Mass., for a backhoe loader for $98,582, less trade-ins of two backhoes for $12,800 and $500, for a net of $85,282, and a four-wheel-drive loader for $100,930 with a multipurpose bucket with hydraulics for $11,895, less a trade-in of a track loader at $7,200, for a net of $105,625.

+ Baker Tractor Corp. of Swansea, Mass., for a four-wheeldrive tractor with book and rotary brush cutter, flail mowers, with no trade-in, for a total of $93,230.

+ CN Wood Company of Woburn, Mass., for a street sweeper under the Providence competitive bidding process, for $125,500.

+ Colony Truck Center of Warwick for a dump truck at $75,466, less a trade-in of a $350 dump truck, and another dump truck at $88,732, less $2,650 for trade-in of a dump truck, for a net of $86,082.

Two other bids were received for the latter dump truck with higher trade-in allowances, but with an emission increase and specification exceptions that put them higher than the Colony package.

Road bids

The councilors also awarded contracts for road oil and chip seal to Dosch King Company of Whippany, N.J., at $2.50 a gallon plus $200 an hour for spreading, and to the Cardi Corporation of Warwick for asphalt paving at $57.94 a ton.

The materials will be used for road improvements as designed by the DPW deputy for 4,533 feet of paving and 12,475 feet of oiling and sealing. More than twothirds of the work will done on roads at the north end of the island.

Town officials have been talking for years about expanding the annual road improvement program only to have it remain unchanged due to a lack of funding for both staff preparation and actual road work. The annual budget for some years, including the current one, has been $100,000.

The councilors have agreed to a proposal by Keiser for "catchup" road improvements to be funded through a bond schedule to start July 1, 2007. The council also agreed to providing a fulltime engineer to plan the improvements.

As in the past, this year the priorities for road improvements were based on informal, ongoing visual observations by the DPW crew and police officers.

This year's paving schedule covers Stern and Bow streets, from Seaside Drive to Beach Avenue; Galley Street; Top O' the Mark, from Nunn Street to Keel Avenue; Fowler Street, from Valley to Swinburne streets; Marcello Street, from Reise to Penny roads; and Lincoln Street, from Conanicus Avenue to Green Lane. If funds can be found, part of Seaside Drive and Keel Avenue will also be paved.

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