Wednesday, October 4, 2017

City vehicles are old and need to be replaced

Posted By on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 9:51 AM

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In the Oct. 4 issue of the Independent, we report the city of Colorado Springs' fleet is aging and needs an infusion of money. That could come if voters approve a stormwater fee on the Nov. 7 ballot, because money now spent on drainage projects — $17 million a year — would then be applied to other city needs, including fleet. The fees would charge all households $5 per month, while most nonresidential property owners would pay $30 per acre.

As we went to press, we heard some of the details of fleet problems from Corey Farkas in Public Works, who writes via email:

• In the last two seasons we have had three plows towed back to the shop, after breaking down on their routes.

• Since January 2016, Public Works Operations and Maintenance conducted welding on 27 pieces of snow and ice control equipment in order to keep these items "mission ready". The cost of this work ... was roughly $11,000 in materials alone...this does not include labor hours.

• In the 2015/2016 snow season, we had 17 trucks go down during one week. With another impending snow event coming, we had 3 days to get as many trucks functional as we could. This puts us in an extremely vulnerable situation.
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In addition, city communications chief Jamie Fabos tells us that the city currently has four hybrid-electric vehicles and "are continuing to investigate additional fuel efficient vehicles that are financially feasible."

Lastly, Ryan Trujillo, sustainability and support services manager, reports that the city has had to replace nine engine and transmissions since 2015. Others needed such treatment, but due to the age and condition of those units, the city opted to dispose of them "instead of throwing good money after bad," he says.

He also says, via email:
I think it’s important to note that while the need for a fleet overhaul is becoming urgent, the city has put off this cost by taking measures to extend its capabilities in the absence of budget availability over the past five-plus years. Through creative measures such as our 5-year fleet replacement strategy, we’ve been able to increase the number of vehicles immediately available without the need for special budget appropriation.

While we are proud of those efforts, and will continue to pursue the most economical options for fleet maintenance, we need to embrace a long-term strategy and the budget numbers I provided you will get us well on our way.

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