June 30–A lease/purchase agreement to buy two new dump trucks with snowplows, salt spreaders and the hydraulics to operate them was approved Thursday by New Castle city council.
The city will spend $254,134.01 to be paid over seven years at $40.679.80 per year. The purchase is financed through First National Bank Commercial Leasing at 3.9 percent.
The purchase, using the city’s liquid fuels funds, is being made through Hill International. It was approved by a 4-1 vote, with councilman Tom Smith opposing.
In May, city public works director Mike Rooney said one of his almost 25-year-old dump trucks would not pass inspection in July. Since the city purchases dump trucks in pairs, Rooney noted the truck that was purchased with the failing vehicle is in bad shape and should be replaced also.
City officials obtained bids and financing figures for the lease/purchase of new equipment, but Smith, who is borough manager for Seven Fields in Butler County, obtained alternative bids and also asked Rooney to consider pretreating roads with a brine solution when streets are salted in winter months.
Smith’s participating in the process ruffled the feathers of Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo, who at council’s May 24 meeting told Smith he was overstepping his duties.
The trucks were rebid. When council opened bids on Tuesday, Hunter Truck Sales appeared to have submitted the lower of two bids received, bidding $248,815.10 to Hill International’s $254,134.01 Bids were referred to the administration for review.
At Thursday’s meeting, city solicitor Jason Medure, speaking for the administration, said upon review, it was determined that Hill International’s bid was actually lower since it included two 2018 dump trucks as well as the cost of two snow plows, spreaders and hydraulics. The Hunter bid, he said, was for only the two trucks. Snowplows and hydraulics were added as an option which raised the bid by about $24,000.
Smith asked about an earlier bid by Hunter, which offered a 2016 dump truck with 2,000 miles and a new 2018 truck that he said was “totally rigged.”
Medure said his only involvement with the bids was on Thursday, and he knew nothing of the earlier bid.
Smith added that at Tuesday’s workshop he had requested information on both bids so he could do a comparison, but never received it.
He also pointed out the city did not advertise for bids since both Hill and Hunter are on the state Costars list, but asked why the city would not consider purchasing the 2016 used truck with 2,000 miles on it, since it was available at a lower cost. Smith noted that replacing the trucks had not been anticipated at budget time.
“I hope in the future we plan better,” he said. “It will save heartache, stress and frustration.”
Smith asked if both trucks are needed at this time. “We’re broke and must manage better,” he said.
He also encouraged the city to talk another look at using a brine mixture to pretreat streets and recommended that the two new trucks be fitted with brine tanks to be used when plowing snow.
This could cut salt costs by 30 percent,” he said. “The city could save $78,637.”
He noted that Rooney had said the city tried brine years ago, was not satisfied with results and concluded the city had received poor quality of salt.
“I’ve been in the municipal business for 20-plus years,” Smith said. “Other communities pretreat roads and it will save money. We must start planing smarter. I’m not asking to recreate the wheel, just use sound practices. We can’t raise taxes, the streets are falling apart.”
Council president Bill Panella, speaking on behalf of Mastrangelo said, “The mayor saves every penny he can but these trucks are falling apart.”
Councilman Tim Fulkerson urged council members to work together, but agreed that new trucks are in order.
“This replaces trucks bought in 1996, during my first year as mayor,” Fulkerson said. “They are 22 years old. These two trucks have outlasted the 20-year bond we took out to buy them. That’s saying something.”
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