2015 Five-Year Capital Budget Plan: Public Works

This is a first in a series of articles that will detail capital requests from departments in the borough. Capital expenditures are put into a capital budget and are different from the regular operating budget that was just passed. These are for expenses that will have a depreciation of, at least, five years and will require long-term loans, categorized as debt services, that will be paid off annually over time – like a mortgage – and have those annual payments put into the municipality’s operating budget. As an example, this year’s debt service to be paid for previous capital expenses is $1,934,077 and that amount was included in what is to be paid through property taxes.

The first department to have its five-year outlook heard at this year’s Capital Budget Workshop was the DPW (Department of Public Works). As part of last year’s recommendation from council to better focus departments as well as prepare the governing body on large capital expenses, each bureau was requested to present a five-year outlook. The plan is to review the outlook every year an adjust costs according to need or budgetary constraints.

The DPW’s total amount for the next five years came to $1,104,000.

This year’s proposed purchases were for one (1) 3-yard mason dump truck for $85,000 and one (1) pickup truck for $42,000. These are to replace the same type trucks that are from 1999; a Chevy mason dump truck has 64,000 miles and a Dodge pickup truck has 69,000 miles on it. According to DPW Superintendent Mark Pasquali, the pickup has rotted floorboards and the mason truck has the back container board rotted out. That brings the 2015 capital proposed expenditures to $127,000.

2016 has the purchase of one (1) roll-off container truck and five (5) roll-off containers for $210,000 as the sole capital expenditure for that year. Mr. Pasquali stated that the container truck could serve multiple purposes. Additionally, money could be saved, in the long run, by not having to pay to have a container switched by the contractor that is currently providing them to the borough. Citing $150 per change and 614 container changes in seven years, that amount would come out to $92,100; that averages out to $13,200/year or $66,000 over the five-year outlook time span. Other suggested uses for the containers included having them be used for leaf pick-up – which costs $15,000/year – using them to move snow during bad winter storms, and loading large trees during tree cutting season. The DPW superintendent did add,  “In the middle of that you have to take into consideration insurance, maintenance, fuel, and pay a worker to drive it.”

The 2017 projected budget has one (1) 3-yard mason dump truck for $85,000 and one (1) street sweeper. The truck, according to the DPW, is to replace a 2003 truck with 56,000 miles and 12,500 hours on it. Mr. Pasquali commented, “It still works well but the useful lifespan is 10 years.”

Mayor Carl Hokanson asked about the street sweeper, “I thought we were looking into possibly privatizing? With a cost factor of $18,200, if we can look into privatizing, we can eliminate the extra cot of the waste products, the maintenance, labor, etc.”

The mayor was referring to having a contractor do the street sweeping for the entire borough since, in the past, the machine has had a lot of downtime over the years. Additionally, it would put a laborer back on to do other tasks as well as lower maintenance costs. Ken Blum, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), stated that council should keep in mind that streets are swept five days a week in Roselle Park and privatizing might lessen that schedule since five days a week is expensive to pay on a contractual basis. Mr. Pasquali stated he would get some prices from companies to compare them.

The one listed purchase in 2018 is for a tree truck budgeted at $240,000 to replace a 1995 bucket truck.

The last year in the five-year outlook has one tree chipper and one stump grinder at $60,000 a piece and one backhoe for $140,000. The tree chipper and stump grinder are from 1996 and 1998 respectively with the grinder having over 500 hours and the hour counter on the chipper being broken. The current backhoe is from 1990.

After the presentation, the governing body made some observations and asked some questions. First Ward Councilman Eugene Meola asked if the containers are going to be covered to comply with environmental standards because right now that responsibility falls on the contract. If we end up owning them, then it will become the municipality’s responsibility. He stated, “I just don’t want to find out later on that this is an additional thing that we didn’t think about, didn’t ask about, didn’t know about. If we buy them, it’s our problem, and now we have to get covers for them from the beginning.”

The DPW Superintendent also provided a list of vehicles and equipment that signified those he felt could be sold at auction.There was no discussion of whether any of those vehicles could be rebuilt or refurbished or have its parts replaced at a lower cost that would extend the life of any of them. One example is the 1989 6-yard dump truck with a DT466 engine with 52,000 miles that was on the list to be sold because it did not run. DT466 engines can be replaced for between $2,000-$5,000.

The mayor asked if it would be better to switch the 2015 with the 2016 purchases since the contracts for the roll-off containers will be done before next year’s capital is voted on and approved. The mayor recommended doing minor repairs to the floorboards to cover them with welded steel plates so they could last another year or two.

The discussion ended with the CFO saying whatever decision was made, the most important year is the first year since it will be voted on this year.

A chart of the proposed purchases for the next five years from the DPW is available below. By way of comparison, this year’s five-year projected outlook total of $1,040,000 is a 37% increase over the previous five years’ capital purchases that totaled $757,670.

3-Yard Mason Dump Truck
Pickup Truck
Roll-Off Container Truck
Street Sweeper
Tree Truck
Tree Chipper
Stump Grinder

Below is a copy of the vehicle/equipment list that was provided.