With miles of streets and storm drains to maintain, the Williams City Council voted 4-0-1 to dip heavily into the city’s Vehicle Internal Service Fund to purchase some heavy equipment.
Councilmen John Troughton, Jr., Alfred Sellers, Roberto Mendoza and Santos Jauregui, in a rare maneuver, voted to override Mayor Charles Bergson objection to spending $275,000 to purchase street maintenance equipment such as a track loader, mini excavator, crack sealer machine, asphalt spray sealer, utility truck, two trailers, and equipment attachments, after the city’s top administrators said the purchase of heavy equipment couldn’t be put off any longer.
“Public works is doing a fantastic job, even though we don’t have the equipment we need to do those jobs,” Kennedy said. “We end up renting a lot of equipment every time we need an excavator or a bobcat, or we do without or try to do it with a backhoe, or we do it manually, or whatever. It’s been a while since we had any real equipment purchased for the public works division.”
City officials said that not having the basic equipment that most cities have to maintain their streets is part of the reason Williams roads have deteriorated as much as they have.
“Marguerite Street is a brand new road but it already has cracks,” said Vice Mayor Santos Jauregui. “You have to seal the cracks.”
Kennedy estimates the new crack sealer, used to help preserve or extend the life of roads, will cost about $70,000. The city has already priced some of the other equipment, including the track loader, used to grind down uneven street surfaces and pick up debris, which will cost $66,809; the mini excavator, used to demolish asphalt and concrete, which will cost $43,481; and the utility truck, which will cost $40,520.
Kennedy said that in addition to routine maintenance, the equipment would be readily available for emergency situations, such as water and sewer line breaks and flooding situations.
Standing water is the culprit for much of the damage to the city’s roads, officials said. Streets at Valley Ranch are also showing cracks that, with readily available equipment, could slow down the progression of deterioration
“When water gets into the base it fowls up the surface because the water turns it to mush underneath,” Troughton said. “That breaks up the payment on the top.”
Finance Director Rex Greenbaun said the city has just over $300,000 in the Vehicle Internal Service Fund, which the City Council contributes about $50,000 to annually from the General Fund, largely as a way to replace police vehicles.
Greenbaun said the purchasing new equipment outright could, in just several years, pay the city back in savings on rental equipment, man hours, and the ability to immediately address needed repairs.
Bergson was skeptical about the savings, and suggested the city do a comparison study or possibly phase in the purchase of equipment over a period of time.
“That is a big chunk of money, Bergson said. “Is it worth dropping all of that money in one shot?”
With no one in agreement, Bergson ultimately abstained from casting a vote. ■