'Real chronic and obvious needs': Fairfield public works wants $3.9 million to replace trucks

FAIRFIELD — The public works department is requesting $3.9 million to replace some of its fleet as several of its trucks reach the end of their useful lives.

A tree bucket truck, four dump trucks used for plowing and a flatbed truck with a lift-gate and a backhoe are all on the department’s replacement list, acting Director of Public Works John Marsilio said at a recent finance board meeting.

Marsilio said most of the department’s budget is for replacing equipment that is “apparent” to him and everyone who works at the town garage.

The price to replace the equipment ranges from $130,000 to $220,000 each, according to town documents.

Marsilio said the request comes as part of the department’s overall vehicle and equipment replacement plan, which is spread out over three to four years to space out the spending.

“We prioritized what we thought were the real chronic and obvious needs,” he said.

During this week’s snow storm, Marsilio said, every single truck had to go to the garage for repairs at one point or another.

“I can tell you that [fleet maintenance crews] worked so hard, keeping these trucks out on the road, doing what they had to do to keep the town safe,” he said. “I’m very proud of them too and they deserve kudos as much as the actual plow drivers.”

The department’s request asks the town to bond for the replacement of the vehicles in the upcoming budget with $1.39 million of that bond covering the first part of the replacement plan.

Marsilio said there are long wait times for purchasing these vehicles.

“They could take seven or eight or nine months to acquire,” he said. “If we don’t have some sort of placeholder before, I’m going to say May, we may not have them for next year’s snow season.”

Jared Schmitt, the town’s chief financial officer, said the bond would be for the entire three years of vehicle replacement plan — totaling $3.92 million. Board members requested Marsilio compile more details on vehicles being replaced in the second and third year of the plan, which he agreed to.

Finance board member James Walsh said he did not see why the town could not bond for the vehicles sooner and work to catch up on the public works vehicle replacements.

“I don’t know why we need to wait,” Walsh said. “I think we should, if we all agree, or at least send a message.”

He also suggested the board put more money in the department’s operating budget for vehicle replacement, so that the town does not have to bond for it anymore.

The board requested the department put together a plan that would show its long-term replacement needs and how the town could end up funding that through its operating budget, not bonding.