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Council: If wheels aren’t falling off, don’t replace it

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POSTED May 17, 2012 1:28 a.m.

City staff wants to spend $27,000 sometime after July 1 to replace the vehicle maintenance superintendent pickup truck that’s 8½ year old and has 101,800 miles on it.

The Manteca City Council’s reaction: Not quite so fast.

“I have a pickup truck outside that has 200,000 miles on it and it is doing just fine,” noted Council Steve DeBrum during a recent special council meeting on the city’s five-year capital improvement plan that includes vehicle replacement.

The city has in place a policy that replaces vehicles that are older and/or have high mileage to avoid incurring higher maintenance costs that typically happens as a car ages and racks up miles.

Given the budget situation, the council made it clear they don’t want vehicles replaced until it is absolutely necessary. The council had no problem with a 16-year-old, ¾ ton pickup used by the streets crew that has 125,126 miles on it being replaced in the coming fiscal year. The pickup truck has become unreliable and costly to maintain.

The city is proceeding with the replacement of other vehicles that are included in the current year’s budget. Included is $946,000 to replace two fully automated side loading vehicles for residential solid waste. The aging vehicles have become expensive to operate and maintain plus they are not California Air Resources Board compliant. Newer hybrid technology is expected to reduce fuel costs significantly and rack up big savings on brake replacements for the heavy duty trucks that make frequent stops.

The message was clear: Only replace vehicles when it becomes necessary to do so in terms of reliability and maintenance cost versus replacement.

The city sets aside money every year from the general fund as well as specialty accounts such as solid waste, water, and sewer to provide for replacement of essential equipment including vehicles.

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