Highway Superintendent Mark Minick said he needs two new pickup trucks to update his aging fleet, but some town officials aren’t convinced the purchase is necessary.
On Thursday, the all-Republican Town Board was deadlocked 2-2 on whether or not to authorize the purchase of two 2008 Ford F-250 trucks for just under $60,000.
The board needs a majority vote to pass a measure, so the resolution was defeated.
Councilwoman Lisa Bruno abstained from voting because she said she wasn’t given enough time to review the request.
“I want to be clear why I’m voting in any direction,” Bruno said after the meeting. “I wanted to see why he thought this stuff was a necessity.”
But Minick said the new trucks are needed. His oldest truck is inoperable and would cost too much to repair, he said. The second oldest truck is 14 years old and has more than 130,000 miles on it.
Minick and his foreman currently drive the two newest trucks in the fleet, a 2003 and a 1999 model. Those trucks are used in emergencies and for other heavy duties such as snow removal.
If the town buys two new trucks, the trucks Minick and his foreman had been using would be passed down for light-duty use, such as sign replacement or road inspections.
The two oldest trucks from the fleet would then be sold and Minick and the foreman would drive the new vehicles.
The highway department has a total of five pickup trucks. Money was included in this year’s budget to buy two new trucks for the department.
“The equipment program that we have and the process that is in place maximizes our cost effectiveness,” Minick said. “Not replacing this stuff is not in the best interest of our taxpayers.”
Minick wanted to buy the trucks from a Syracuse company under a state contract, but the deadline to get the state contract price was Monday.
Supervisor Shawn Connelly voted in favor of the purchase on Thursday.
“There’s a replacement issue, at least, for the one truck that just blew up,” Connelly said. “The vehicles have been kept at a certain level and we’re just trying to continue that.”
“The economic climate right now is the way it is, and I could not honestly sit there and spend $60,000,” said Councilwoman Virginia Whitman, who voted against the purchase.
Whitman said one alternative would be considering used vehicles.
“I believe that’s it’s going to cost the town more money now,” Connelly said. “Are we really saving money if we still have to replace these trucks?”
Connelly had scheduled a special meeting for this morning to consider the purchase of one truck instead, but he said he decided to cancel the meeting because Minick said he needed two.
Officials were also unsure if the dealer would agree to sell one truck on state contract after the Monday deadline.
Whitman and Bruno criticized Connelly for scheduling a meeting in the morning, when it might be difficult for the public to attend.
But Connelly said he has a full schedule today and he wouldn’t have been able to attend a meeting much earlier than 9 p.m.
“Not every meeting we’re going to have to hold will be on a Wednesday at 7 o’clock,” Connelly said. “I don’t think we were trying to be deceitful to anybody.”
The board will instead consider later this month allowing Minick to seek bids for the two trucks, Connelly said.
There’s no way to know whether possible offers the town gets will be higher or lower than the state contract price, Minick said.
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