2006-12-14 / Front Page

Town nets $14k in equipment auction

By Dotti Farrington

The recent auction of outdated and inefficient town equipment succeeded as a moneymaker, as a beautification project, and especially as a morale booster for town workers, according to Town Councilman William Kelly, who spearheaded the undertaking. “It was a win-win situation in many ways,” he said. “I’m so pleased.”

The auction brought in nearly $14,000 directly, and the town is continuing to negotiate the sale of at least one more large piece of equipment.

Kelly says the auction total should also reflect the trade-in savings that totaled $23,500 toward the purchase of six new major pieces of equipment.

Kelly listed his observations at council meetings late last month and this past Monday. He emphasized the impact on town employees because they now are taking pride in using new, reliable equipment that replaced the items that were often breaking down, frus- trating them, causing lost time, and costing extra money to complete projects. “We all benefit, from the workers to the taxpayers,” Kelly said.

“We got rid of clutter, removed rusting items taking up space, broken equipment leaking oil that we don’t need anymore,” he said.

He called on his colleagues and town staff to set a policy for obtaining new or used equipment in good condition, rather than trying to get by with clever but short-term jury-rigging on old equipment.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser agreed, saying he “endorsed the replacement of outdated items. It was just throwing good money after bad. We will be applying (the philosophy) for all departments.”

The councilors initially backed the goal of obtaining good equipment by endorsing budget items, including bonding $557,000 for six major items, that voters approved at the annual financial town meeting.

Auction set up

Kelly called for the auction more than a year ago, and plan was not finalized until specifi- cations were prepared for new equipment and it was obtained. Kelly praised Public Works Director

Steven Goslee and Assistant

Public Works Director Michael Gray, who is also the town engineer, for co-ordinating the cleanup and auction They dredged up the rusting, dilapidated equipment from the deteriorating highway barn at Fort Wetherill, from the yard of the Town Offices on Southwest Avenue, and from the aging water treatment plant and the former landfill site on North Main Road. They also towed a decrepit handed down police car used by town Building Official Fred Brown.

Kelly talked especially about the problems Brown had because the vehicle could not get out of ruts and mud holes on property under construction where he had to issue warnings or stop-work orders.

The five-member council voted unanimously last year to have Goslee determine the items to be sold or to be designated to sell as scrap from among the equipment he had jurisdiction over. They directed Keiser to identify equipment and materials in other town departments for inclusion in the sale. The police department contributed quite a collection of outdated property from their department, including accumulations of old office equipment and unclaimed lost bikes. Unsold smaller items that still may be usable will be donated to appropriate charitable organizations, Kelly noted.

Councilors specified that funds realized from the disposal of all equipment should be placed in the capital account because the auctioned-off equipment had been purchased from that account.

When the town awarded bids on new DPW equipment, Kelly praised 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 road sweeper. Keiser in turn credited Goslee and Gray for pursuing all cost effective options. Kelly said the trade-in deals “were smart deals.”

Kelly also observed that the morale of the public works crew already was higher “because we’re paying attention to them.” DPW workers have expressed feelings of being town orphans because of the 25-year-plus, stillunsettled battle over where to put a new town highway barn.

Town officials said the new equipment gives workers a chance to “show their stuff” because they were frustrated not being able to do all the jobs they are trained and expected to do.

The auction items included a roller, trash trailer, pickup truck, mini-bus, street sweeper, police car and four boats. The town this summer made lease purchases of a backhoe loader, a multi-purpose loader, a mower and brush cutter tractor, a road sweeper, and two dump trucks.

What’s next

In related work, Kelly and Keiser are next looking to do “selective salvaging” such as finding a buyer for appliances, known as white goods in the trade, that town residents need to trash. The town currently pays to have it trucked away, with the hauler getting any payment that may be available for the goods.

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