There may be customers for the city’s body shop after all — if Schenectady is willing to negotiate a better price.
Glenville officials have considered several proposals, but the city is not yet offering a competitive price compared with the private companies the town uses now.
Rotterdam officials said they, too, would consider getting rust sandblasted off their vehicles if the price was right. They are also convinced that the sandblasting would let them keep expensive machinery on the roads longer.
And if they sign on, the city’s loudest critic of the body shop might finally be satisfied.
Councilman Vince Riggi said he was impressed when Glenville officials said they used to regularly extend the life of their trucks by sandblasting off rust. Maybe the process is worth it, he said.
“There’s no question it’s going to last longer, so I’m not going to say it’s a bad thing for preventative maintenance. My thing was whether it was really cost-efficient for the city to do it,” he said.
He wants to see profits rise at the body shop.
“When this was first done, we were promised a lot of things by [Commissioner of General Services Carl] Olsen and I haven’t seen them. We’re on our third year now,” he said.
The shop was expected to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue every year, but the first two years were disappointing.
In 2012, it brought in just $80,000 while spending $145,200.
For 2013, it is budgeted to bring in even less: $50,000. One of the two employees was cut from the shop, bringing the total budget to $98,300, but that’s still twice as much as the shop will bring in.
Now that might change. Glenville is considering a contract with the city for sandblasting and repainting municipal trucks. Rotterdam officials also said the procedure could be valuable because it extends vehicle life and lets them postpone vehicle purchases.
It all comes down to price.
If the city offers the municipalities a good deal, they’ll take it. But the price has to be less than they’d spend to replace vehicles or hire private contractors to do the sandblasting.
“If the dollars and cents make sense, then absolutely,” said Glenville Highway Superintendent Thomas Coppola.
He said the town used to sandblast rust off its trucks and repaint them regularly. Now they hire private contractors, but the price is so high that they’ve only sent a couple of trucks out for sandblasting.
He said the procedure definitely works.
“The more proactive you are, the better you are. When they start to show surface rust and flaking, that’s when to do it,” he said. “You’re looking at extending that body for five to seven years.”
He sandblasts trucks that cost $180,000, to avoid buying new ones.
“The longer you can keep that truck, the better off you are,” he said, adding that the trucks develop rust quickly. “We run salt, so it’s very corrosive.”
In Rotterdam, Supervisor Harry Buffardi said he’s also a believer in sandblasting.
“We believe it would [help],” he said. “We would certainly consider it. Erosion and corrosion to those vehicles take away the life expectancy of those vehicles.”
Mayor Gary McCarthy said he would like to see more revenue from the body shop, but he defended it as a valuable service even if no one else ever contracts with the city. The body shop has maintained many city trucks that otherwise would be in poor shape now, he argued.
“The ability to do some work internally, I believe it does pay off,” he said.