Tuesday January 8, 2013

HALIFAX -- A town plow truck has been written off as a loss to the town and it needs to be replaced sooner rather than later.

Options were discussed at the Selectboard meeting held on Jan. 3.

"It would be smarter with your tax money to buy a truck rather than pay someone to plow for the winter and have to replace the truck anyway," Brad Rafus, of the Highway Department, told the public and the board.

A fire caused significant damage to the cab of the town-owned truck on Dec. 29 on Jacksonville Stage Road. The Selectboard had a special meeting to address the issue on Dec. 31.

The board decided to put the replacement vehicle out to bid at its latest meeting.

Rafus had been talking to the claims adjuster about what to do next, while also finding different alternatives to replacing the truck.

"I did make a few phone calls and found two new trucks all set up," he said. "And I talked to another dealership who says, ‘We have a truck you guys can use until you get the new truck or replace it.'"

The rental agreement would be with a dealer that the town has bought trucks from in the past.

"We basically have an emergency," a member of the public said, citing the amount of available trucks in case of a snowstorm.

A purchasing policy had been implemented that could help the town go ahead and buy new equipment in a situation like this.

"If you're going to consider it a emergency, we got to buy a truck," Rafus replied.

He had found two separate vendors, Clark's Truck Center and Patriot Brake Lining, each having a truck that the town could buy.

Rafus was asked if the town could get a better deal if it would buy two trucks from one vendor.

He said after talking with some people, he was told that it wouldn't make much difference. The town gets a municipal discount as it is.

"The government tells them the price, so they don't have much room," said Rafus.

Selectboard member Edee Edwards suggested that the town immediately advertise what is needed and then get bids for the replacement.

"Given that we don't have a clear understanding on how this is going to impact our current fiscal year budget, I would suggest that we go ahead and for the sake of argument, especially if there's two trucks out there that exist, I'm going to say we go ahead and immediately advertise this," Edwards said.

She mentioned that there would be "a pretty short turn-around time getting the sealed bids back."

The town's purchasing policy would help to ensure the process gets done in a time-efficient manner.

Edwards said the board will hold a special meeting in the near future to discuss how to move forward.

Rafus mentioned that by the time of the special meeting, the town would be aware of how much money will be awarded from the town's insurance policy for the damaged vehicle.

"More concrete numbers," he said, would then be available to look at before a bid is awarded.

"I think we have a pretty good plan for short-term," said Edwards.

She asked Rafus about how he was handling the sanding situation for now, without the help of the damaged truck.

Rafus said he had been talking to some other towns. Guilford had already offered to help and he planned to talk with people from Whitingham soon.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.