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$165K for tree trimming lift truck a money saver
Park division tree crews Friday planted a new evergreen tree to serve as the municipal Christmas tree at the entrance of the Civic Center in the 1000 block of Center Street. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
A 75-foot aerial lift truck valued at $165,000 is symbolic of how close Manteca’s elected leaders are now assessing every dollar they spend.

Last month with Mayor Willie Weatherford absent, the council deadlocked on a request to go ahead and purchase the truck for the parks division tree crew. Even though it was funded with bonus bucks paid by new growth that is restricted for major equipment purchases only, council members Vince Hernandez and Debby Moorhead were worried about how it would be perceived by taxpayers and municipal workers taking voluntary pay cuts due to a looming general fund deficit so they voted against the expenditure.

Two weeks later they joined their colleagues and made it unanimous to go ahead and spend the money after re-examining the issue including a 10-minute public rundown of all of the reasons why it made fiscal sense.

The existing truck is 21 years old and has only a 55-foot high reach. More than $19,000 has been spent on hydraulic repairs and mechanical repairs in the past 18 months.

The firm that services the truck has to special order parts. Technicians are now recommending additional repairs to the hydraulic system at a cost of $32,000.

Staff is estimated keeping the truck will require an average of $13,000 in repairs annually. The down time that the repairs are taking each year is also making the tree crews less efficient. The new truck would have annual maintenance and operation costs of $5,000.

In addition, more and more trees are out of the safe reach of the extension of 55 feet. The 75-foot extension will allow crews to safely maintain all municipal trees in Manteca.

There are 8,801 street trees in Manteca plus 7,596 trees in city parks at and the municipal golf course.

It was those various points that prompted Moorhead and Hernandez to reverse their previous stance after determining being penny wise would be pound foolish by not replacing the aerial truck.