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Raymond Community News


Lack of Capital Reserve Funding Impacts Raymond Highway Department
by Penny Williams    10-19-15

The Raymond Highway Department’s replacement needs for its vehicles and equipment is substantial, according to Public Works Director Steve Brewer.

Currently the Capital Reserve Fund for Highway Vehicles has a balance of approximately $31,000, and the cost of replacing the vehicles needed by the department translates to more than $275,000 per year over the next three years. The Capital Reserve Fund for Highway Equipment has a balance of approximately $58,000, compared to the cost of replacing the equipment needed at approximately $135,000 per year over the next three years.

According to Brewer, for the last five years this Capital Reserve Fund (CRF) has been at $45,000, and in 2010 it was not funded at all. This rate of funding has resulted in the inability to replace trucks as frequently as they should be, he said. 

Brewer explained that in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), over the next three years his department is seeking to replace a one-ton truck and a six-wheel dump truck each year for the next several years.  The one-ton truck cost is about $85,000, and the dump truck costs about $180,000, including all of the equipment required to make it operational - plows, lights, spreader, etc., he said.

Of the department's current one-ton trucks, Truck # 14 is 17 years old, Truck # 18 is 13 years old and Truck # 21 is 10 years old. Of its six-wheel trucks, Truck # 15 is 15 years old, Truck #17 is 14 years old and Truck #19 is 14 years old.

Trucks 14 and 15 are in the CIP slated for replacement in 2016.

"The replacement cost for the equipment noted above is approximately $840,000," Brewer said. "This figure includes a forecast for escalating vehicle costs over the three years. One of these trucks is currently on order for replacement in 2015. This year we are replacing Truck # 20, a one-ton truck that suffers from significant frame corrosion (that) has resulted in the need to modify the amount of weight the truck can carry.

“The truck can no longer carry the sand and salt load required to operate properly during winter maintenance operations," he added.

Brewer said the equipment list does not include the vehicle and equipment needs of the Parks or Water Departments.

"To the extent that these vehicles are not replaced, the impact will be reflected in more frequent breakdowns and higher repair costs," he said. "It also results in the vehicles losing critical functions, as noted (for) Truck # 20. More frequent vehicle issues result in a diminished level of service; for example, it takes longer to plow the roads."

Asked if leasing were a viable option, Brewer responded, "Leasing is not the best option due to the potential to have the vehicle repossessed if the annual lease payment is not made. Annual lease payments become a part of the annual warrant article for the budget. If the warrant article does not pass in any given year, the vehicle is repossessed. Paying for vehicles over time is best accomplished by a bond. The bonding option allows the vehicles to be purchased outright and paid for over time."

As for the Department's equipment needs, Brewer said that in the CIP, over the next three years the department is seeking to replace: a leaf vacuum loader that is 14 years old, low bed trailers that are 35 years old, an air compressor that is 20 years old, a front-end loader that is 24 years old, and conversion to high band radios. He said the department is seeking a grant to cover the radio cost.

"The replacement cost for the equipment noted above is approximately $250,000," he stated.

Brewer continued, "of note is our road grader. This piece of equipment is 43 years old.  The replacement cost for this is estimated at $265,000. The grader is so old that it is difficult to find parts for repair. The grader is used to maintain dirt roads in the summer and is the most effective piece of equipment we have to push back heavy snowbanks in the winter.

“Our wheeled excavator is used with great regularity during the construction season,” he added. “It is highly utilized.  It is 7 years old. Its replacement cost is $250,000. It is currently projected to be replaced in 2032. For smaller excavation work we utilize the backhoe, currently 18 years old. The replacement cost for the backhoe is $125,000. We are hopeful that the CRF will be sufficiently funded over the coming years to be able to replace this piece of equipment in 2019.”

He noted that from 2011 to 2013, this CRF was funded at $15,000. Over the last two years it was funded at $20,000 each year, but in 2010 it was not funded at all. Brewer said this funding rate has resulted in the inability to replace equipment as frequently as it should be.

Asked if repairs to vehicles could be done instead of replacing the vehicles, he responded, "Due to the age of the vehicles and equipment, our fleet undergoes repairs with great regularity. In addition to repairing mechanical issues there are various aspects of the vehicles and equipment that cannot be repaired, such as the actual vehicle frame issues, which deteriorates due to corrosion."

As to his plans for replacing the needed vehicles Brewer said, "We are striving to get back to a replacement program that replaces vehicles before they reach a point where they are experiencing frequent repairs and have a severely diminished trade-in value.  The replacement program at the New Hampshire Department of Transportation calls for replacement of their large trucks every seven years.

"The need to replace vehicles and equipment is real,” he added. “Many if not all of the road maintenance services provided by the Highway Department over the seasons and during local natural disasters rely on these vehicles and equipment. It is also important to point out that this fleet is also utilized by the Water Department to repair failing water mains and perform other water-related construction as needed.  On occasion, the Parks and Buildings group also use this equipment to address issues with the facilities that they maintain.”

He plans to advise the CIP Committee, Budget Committee, Board of Selectmen and the voters of the funding needs and hopes that warrant articles that appropriate these funds are supported by the voters.

And he noted the Town’s current road problem - the Onway Lake Road culvert that must be repaired this fall to enable the Town's plow trucks to traverse the lower end of Onway Lake Road this winter - is impacted by the department needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raymond Town Office
4 Epping Street

895-4735

Raymond NH Website

 


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