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Perth highway department still feeling winter's wrath

Saturday, August 09, 2014 - Updated: 4:08 AM

By CAROLINE MURRAY

caroline.murray@recordernews.com

PERTH -- Even in the midst of summer, the town's highway department is still feeling the wrath of last winter.

Highway Superintendent David Dopp said over the past several months, many of the department's machines have broken down, several are still in need of repair, and the machinery fund has depleted as a result.

"The winter was nasty to us," Dopp said.

The latest equipment in need of work is a 2002 plow truck, which needs to have the entire dump body replaced, Dopp told the town board Thursday.

Dopp estimates the replacement could cost up to $31,000. He said the truck is in rough shape, and they cannot use it until it is fixed.

Supervisor Gregory Fagan said he would like to sit down and review finances before making a final decision on the replacement.

Although a pricey investment, Dopp said the alternative of purchasing a new plow truck would cost the town upwards of $200,000.

"We are going to be tight with some of these repairs coming up," councilman Walter Kowalczyk said. "I don't know where we are going to end up here."

Fagan said he still needs to review an updated version of the highway department's budget, as well as the town's general fund, before next month's meeting.

He said in addition to replacing the box, the department would also need to have the truck repainted and sanded. Fagan believes these renovations are a good investment. However, between labor costs and repairs, Fagan said it could cost the department roughly $50,000.

He said he feels more comfortable going over numbers first and looking at what is left in highway funds, before committing to a payment.

"Up-to-date numbers just came in, I know every one is busy this summer," Fagan said.

Kowalczyk said the 2002 plow truck just had some work done, too. Dopp said the truck had its clutch replaced and added bushings to the walking beams.

He asked Fagan to add a resolution to the agenda, authorizing a payment for the repairs, which cost the department more than $7,000.

Fagan also tacked on a resolution to transfer the $7,000 from highway's general repair fund to the machinery account in order to foot the cost of the bill.

Both resolutions were passed by the council.

Dopp said the highway department has $130,000 left in the general repair fund, before finalizing a payment for road paving.

He said it would cost the department up to $90,000 to finish paving the roads this summer.

Additionally, Kowalczyk said the highway department is running low on sand.

Fagan said there might be enough left for December and to hold off on adding more until the new near.

Councilwoman Gay Lewandowski asked what the difference was between purchasing the sand now and Jan. 1.

"Is it less money?" she asked.

Dopp said if they get the sand early in January, it might be frozen and unusable. He advised to get the sand earlier, even if it costs more.

Fagan said to add the sand costs to the list of finances he needs to review by next month's meeting.

"Give it to me as soon as you can and we can try to get in here the next couple of weeks and get this all sorted out," Fagan said.

With budget season fast approaching, Fagan said they might need to look at the highway department's finances differently for 2015.

Fagan said this year, there were a lot of repairs the town did not anticipate. Overall, Fagan said budgeting is becoming more difficult to maintain. He said the biggest problem is a lack of revenue and an increase in expenses, an example being Thursday night.

He said the council might have to work together to budget more money for the highway department than in years past, without raising taxes.

"Hopefully we will have a better handle on what will happen repair-wise," Fagan said.

     

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