Marion City Council members spent a majority of their March 19 meeting debating the pros and cons of purchasing a third bucket truck for the electric department.
City Administrator Doug Kjellin said the department currently has two bucket trucks, but one has a 60-foot boom, which limits its use in tighter places, while the truck with a 41-foot boom is without extra stability and unable to reach taller poles.
Kjellin said a third material-handling bucket truck with a 45-foot boom would complete the fleet.
“The primary reason is safety,” he said about the third truck. “(The material handler) would have a winch right beside the bucket, eliminating some manpower needed in limited circumstances. We also are going to spec outriggers for a more stable base.”
Councilor Steve Smith said it boils down to whether the city needs three trucks.
“I would like to see justification between having three instead of just two,” he said. “We’ve gotten by with two for how long?”
Christian Pedersen, electrical supervisor, substantiated Kjellin’s assessment.
“We cannot use the (60-foot bucket truck) in an alley,” Pedersen said. “It can’t get in there physically. We can’t swing the big boom around with telephone, cable and electric lines.”
Pedersen said the smaller truck gets worked overtime because “it is the one that has to go in every time we lose service.”
The larger bucket truck is used primarily for tree trimming and other high-reach applications, he added.
Smith asked if the two smaller trucks would work more together.
“It would be more precise and easier (for the two trucks) working side by side?” he asked.
Smith asked Pedersen if he foresees a time in the future when three trucks wouldn’t be needed.
“We will always need (the 60-foot bucket truck) as long as we have the ballfields,” Pedersen said.
Kjellin said the ballfields were the primary reason the larger boom was purchased. It also is the main truck used for cutting trees on Main Street because there is room for it to maneuver.
Councilor Bill Holdeman asked if something was wrong with the smaller truck that would require the purchase of another used one.
“Nothing is wrong with it,” Kjellin said.
Mayor Mary Olson said after hearing from Kjellin and Pedersen many of her questions have been answered.
“You have cleared up a few things,” she said. “As we get to a point where we need more discussion, we will have it.”
Olson said she would be interested in public input on equipment issues.
“We have an old street cleaner and we have other old equipment,” she said.
Kjellin said replacing the street cleaner is in the capital outlay budget for 2014.
In addition, he said, when the council looks at the budget next month, it will see a five-year projection of capital outlay for a sewer-vacuum truck, used grader and police car.
The bucket truck and mower were budgeted for this year.
“I think (council members) really needs to trust their department heads,” Kjellin said, adding that he hoped a similar discussion wouldn’t be necessary with every future request.
Olson said she doesn’t always weigh heavily on what the public has to say about all decisions, but, “I still think (taxpayers) have a feel for what is out there. They are watching every day and notice when the street cleaner isn’t sweeping…. I hear all these questions that I cannot answer.”
Pedersen responded: “At the same time, some might be asking why their power isn’t working.”
Olson said Marion is a “little town” and having three trucks for a single department concerns her.
Council members agreed to discuss the issue again when Kjellin provides more information on a vehicle.
Kjellin said, “We know what we want from safety and height standpoint, and the material handler is non-negotiable.”
Kjellin said the price of a used truck that would meet the city’s need is budgeted between $50,000 to $53,000.
Darin Neufeld clarified a question posed at the March 5 council meeting by Councilor Jerry Kline, who asked about the wording in the KLINK agreement with the city regarding “microsurfacing.”
Before approving the agreement for the mill and overlay on Main Street, Kline wanted to be sure that microsurfacing wasn’t a 3/8-inch layer as opposed to a 2-inch layer.
Neufeld, in a memorandum, apologized to the council for the confusion and said the city project will have a 2-inch seal.
He stated the project for Kansas Highway 256, from Locust to the alley between Walnut and First streets, may be “mill and overlay reconstruction, minor patching, joint repair, slurry seal, microsurfacing and any other pre-approved resurfacing methods.”
Neufeld said this means a KLINK project can use only one of the stated methods.
“The other methods of resurfacing stated do not apply,” he said.
Neufeld said if additional issues emerge during the project—such as minor patching or reconstruction—the city would need to get the approval of the Kansas Department of Transportation?to alter the scope of the project.
Following Neufeld’s clarification, the council approved the project.