JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown City Council has approved the purchase of over $1.8 million worth of new vehicles and equipment for the city Public Works Department.
The purchases are part of the Smart City Capital Investment Plan that Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi rolled out in early September. Later that same month the city council approved borrowing up to $12.6 million for the plan.
Ten separate resolutions involving the purchases were acted on Monday night during the council’s October voting session, although not all city council members approved the purchases. Councilman Andy Liuzzo (R – At Large) said he would have preferred to see the council wait until after the new year to act on the resolutions, when a new mayor is in office and there are also new members on the council.
“Do we need the equipment? A lot of it is worn down. Do we need all ten [resolutions] right now? Do we need to spending the money right now on this Smart City Plan that’s going to cost us close to $13 million? I was opposed to it last month, I’m opposed to it now. For one of the tractors we have the money to pay for it – $30,000 – good purchase because we have the money. I just want to state that I don’t think this is the time for us to be approving these other resolutions,” Liuzzo said.
Despite Liuzzo’s concerns and questions, other city officials, including DPW Director Jeff Lehman, said there is an advantage to purchasing the equipment before the end of the year.
“In particular for the plow trucks and the loaders, they have an eight month build out time. So we won’t even be seeing these until eight or nine months from now. That’s part of the reason for the push, so we could get those in place,” Lehman explained following the council meeting. “We also want to take advantage of the 2019 bid pricing on the state bid, because we would wind up getting in a different bid cycle with the state if we waited and typically, prices will go up.”
Prior to the vote, Jamestown Resident Doug Champ used his opportunity in the public comment portion of the meeting to question whether or not the city council had done its due diligence in reviewing each piece of equipment, including how necessary was it and also whether or not it would yield a significant savings for the city. Councilman and finance committee chairman Tony Dolce (R-Ward 2) explained that the council spent a significant amount of time during the two work sessions earlier this month reviewing the proposed purchases, including being show a power point presentation last week.
“We also were given handouts and they talked about the price of the vehicle, which vehicle they are replacing, the critical nature of the vehicle and what it actually does, and the cost involving the current situation with the vehicles we currently own. All of that information was given out so it was discussed at length,” Dolce noted.
In the end, the council voted 7 to 1 in favor of most of the 10 resolutions, with Liuzzo going along with two of them, including a new John Deere tractor that would be paid for through contingency along with a new caterpillar grader that will replace a current grader in the city fleet that is all but inoperable.
As for the equipment and vehicles that will be purchased through the borrowing initiative, Lehman said it will definitely help bring the DPW up to speed, but added more purchases will likely be necessary before it is all said and done.
“We’re looking at $8 million in equipment needs, but we’re putting on a $2 million band aid. Believe me, it’s a great shot in the arm and takes care of a lot of the largest pieces of equipment we need replaced, but more equipment is also in need of being replaced,” Lehman said.
The new equipment that will be purchased as part of the borrowing plan includes three new loaders, two backhoes, four new plows, a street grader, and a street sweeper.
A total of $2.5 million in equipment needs for the DPW and Parks department was listed for purchase as part of the Smart City Investment plan rolled out by the mayor in early September, meaning the city will likely make an additional $700,000 in purchases in the coming months to round out the list.