Supply chain delays and inflation continue to affect the city of Statesboro’s purchases of large equipment, such as recent orders for three replacement garbage trucks costing a total of $1.1 million.
City Council during its Sept. 6 meeting approved a $425,658 Sourcewell cooperative purchase contract with Solid Waste Applied Technology, or “SWAT,” for a 2024 Peterbilt 520 compressed natural gas-fueled truck equipped with a New Way automated residential collection side arm.
In other words, it’s one of those trucks with a robotic arm that grabs poly carts from the curb.
SWAT, which has a Statesboro business address, is to supply this truck to replace an older one rotating out of front-line duty within Statesboro’s Solid Waste Collection Division fleet. The purchase was already scheduled in the city’s Capital Improvement Program, but at a lower expected cost, City Manager Charles Penny acknowledged in remarks to the mayor and council.
“We had budgeted $375,000. However, due to current conditions, we saw a $50,000 increase in the cost of this equipment,” Penny said. “Now, one would say, should we just wait, and I would say we can’t wait, and the reason is that delivery time on this equipment is anywhere from 12 to 24 months, and this is really critical to us being able to provide service in our neighborhoods.”
The additional $50,000 will come out of the solid waste program’s fund balance, he said. Council approved on a 4-0 vote.
Lost to accidents
The side-arm truck is not a replacement for either the Statesboro sanitation truck that caught fire, forcing the closure of major downtown streets, on July 18, or the one that struck a power pole on South Main Street near Rucker Lane early on the morning of July 12. Both of those trucks were front-end loaders, the type that collect waste from “dumpster” bins.
However, when council members asked about those, Penny reminded them that they had authorized two related purchases of front-loader trucks at a previous meeting. That was Aug. 2, when by 5-0 votes the council approved the purchase of a New Way front-loader refuse truck on a 2022 Peterbilt 520 diesel cab and chassis for $290,000 and the order of another with a 2023 Peterbilt 520 compressed natural gas, or CNG, cab and chassis for $387,538.
Both were from SWAT, on Sourcewell contracts.
The city government, which operates a natural gas service, prefers CNG-fueled vehicles, especially for the large trucks in its fleet. But the purchase of the diesel truck, a year-older model, was explained as an emergency step to replace the CNG truck lost to the fire so soon after another had been damaged by hitting a pole.
Public Works and Engineering Director John Washington referred to this as an “unprecedented series of accidents” in a July 16 memo provided to the council.
“Sanitation Division is requesting a Front Load (Diesel) Refuse Collection Truck to help avoid any interruption in sanitation collections services,” Washington wrote. “SWAT has this truck in stock and there will be no wait time for delivery.”
He added that the diesel machine would “supplement the depleted collection truck fleet to offset the current wait time for new CNG refuse collection trucks of 1-2 years, due to current economic conditions across the United States.”
The diesel truck was paid for with cash from the solid waste collection budget’s reserve fund.
But with the council’s approval, the city also ordered the more expensive, CNG-fueled 2023-model front-loader truck for future delivery. It would be purchased with “funds from insurance reimbursement” supplemented by solid waste collection revenue, Washington noted in a separate memo.
“With suppliers experiencing supply chain shortages, as well as price increases, it is imperative that this truck be ordered now, due to 1-2 year delivery,” he wrote. “This will give the City time to receive the insurance reimbursement to cover the unexpected cost of this replacement truck.”