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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Panel approves new trucks for Nashua DPW

NASHUA – There were fireworks the first time around, but a request to purchase a pair of new 10-wheel dump trucks that resurfaced in the Finance Committee on Wednesday passed with little fanfare.

Aldermen approved a request to spend $222,204 to purchase two new trucks from Freightliner of New Hampshire, located in Londonderry, using funds from the city’s Capital Equipment Reserve Fund. ...

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NASHUA – There were fireworks the first time around, but a request to purchase a pair of new 10-wheel dump trucks that resurfaced in the Finance Committee on Wednesday passed with little fanfare.

Aldermen approved a request to spend $222,204 to purchase two new trucks from Freightliner of New Hampshire, located in Londonderry, using funds from the city’s Capital Equipment Reserve Fund.

The Finance Committee also approved spending an additional $150,499 from the equipment fund to outfit the new dump trucks with wing plows, hitches, hydraulics and other components necessary to put the vehicles to use.

Street Department Superintendent Eric Ryder was on hand Wednesday to field questions from members of the Finance Committee, who briefly investigated how the trucks would be put to use.

The availability of city staff to discuss the trucks became one of the sticking points earlier this year when Mayor Donnalee Lozeau and the Board of Public Works asked the Finance Committee to sign off on the purchases.

The Finance Committee delayed taking action on the purchase request until more information was provided about how the 10-wheel trucks will be put to use.

Alderman-at-Large David Deane questioned whether cheaper six-wheel trucks could serve the same purpose. Others on the Finance Committee questioned why staff from the DPW weren’t available to answer questions from the committee.

The issue grew into a schism between some members of the Finance Committee and members of the Board of Public Works, including Lozeau, who chairs the BPW.

Lozeau and BPW Commissioner Timothy Lavoie called the actions of the Finance Committee into question, saying aldermen overstepped their bounds by questioning the wisdom of the truck purchases.

Lavoie asked for a legal opinion clarifying the role of the Finance Committee, which was rendered by city staff in March. City attorneys determined the Finance Committee’s basic responsibility doesn’t include deciding which vehicles are appropriate to purchase.

The dispute over the Finance Committee’s authority under the city charter has been largely dormant since it flared up in the spring.

With Ryder on hand to field questions Wednesday, neither Lozeau nor members of the Finance Committee made any move to revisit the debate.

“Currently, a six-wheeled dump truck, it doesn’t hold as much material as a 10-wheel dump truck,” Ryder told the group.

The greater storage capacity creates operating efficiencies for the DPW, which would otherwise spend more money on fuel and manpower during winter plowing, sanding and salting operations if it was working solely with six-wheel dump trucks, Ryder said.

Similarly, the trucks can hold more stone and gravel when DPW employees are engaged in road work in the spring, winter and fall, reducing the number of trips vehicles have to make to locations such as DPW headquarters, construction sites and storage areas for raw materials.

The new dump trucks will replace two 15-year-old International dump trucks. One has 101,000 miles on it, and the other has 97,000 miles on it and has a severely cracked frame.

The new trucks will be purchased through an existing state contract and will carry standard two-year warranties.

They will replace two of the four 10-wheel trucks in the city’s fleet. The other two trucks are scheduled to be replaced in 2016 and 2017.

Earlier this year, the Finance Committee also approved the purchase of four new six-wheel dump trucks.

The committee voted Wednesday to spend an additional $287,726 from the Capital Equipment Reserve Fund to outfit the trucks with necessary equipment to make them operational.

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).