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Sewer Surplus Should Not Be Used for Equipment, Committeeman Says

Montville Township Committee decided not to purchase a new excavator and will instead explore options of outsourcing the township's needs.

Montville Township mayor and committee members voiced their desire to explore outsourcing the township’s excavating needs when they denied the request to purchase a new excavator at Tuesday night’s meeting. 

Mayor Tim Braden told committee members that he would like to explore options of either outsourcing the township’s excavating or renting equipment as needed, instead of purchasing the $63,000 equipment as requested. He said this could be a cost savings to the township and also alleviate the problem of not having enough heavy equipment operators on staff. 

“I consider myself a practical person,” Braden said. “I think that we should look into outsourcing. If outsourcing doesn’t work, then we can buy the equipment.” 

He said he would prefer to attempt outsourcing on a trial basis, an option that Braden said other local towns have followed. 

Director of the Department of Public Works Tom Mazzaccaro told committee members he did not understand their apprehension in purchasing the excavator since it was a budgeted item. The excavator would be purchased through surplus funds from the water and sewer department. The surplus totals between $2.5 and $3 million combined. 

Deputy Mayor Don Kostka expressed concern about using surplus funds after sewer rates had just been reduced. Mazzaccaro said he did not forsee the changes to the funding mechanism affecting either of the surpluses. 

Mazzaccaro said that outsourcing would be difficult, especially in an emergency. He said it also would not be a cost-efficient option, as outsourcing costs an estimated $750 per day for both the machinery and an operator. 

He said if the equipment was used twice a week over a 25-year period, it would amount to a cost of $25 per day of use, a cost that he said does not include general maintenance and repair of the equipment. 

“There are jobs that come up every day, daily, and this is equipment that can be utilized for 25 years,” Mazzaccaro said. “The money is budgeted for, the money is accounted for. If this is personal, I’d like it to be said.” 

Braden said the desire to outsource was not personal and no different from the township committee looking to outsource snow plowing at Mazzaccaro’s recommendation.

“We are looking to do the best thing for the town,” Braden said. 

Mazzaccaro said that outsourcing snowplowing and outsourcing daily operation were two different things because the excavator is equipment that could be needed at a moment’s notice when contractors were not available, like during an overnight water main break. 

After much discussion, the township committee voted against a resolution to purchase the excavator in a 3 to 2 vote. Opposing the resolution were Braden, Kostka and Committeman Scott Gallopo, who made reference to the township having two backhoes in working order before voting. 

Dan Grant September 26, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Interesting meeting last night. Apparently the Committee kicked the can down the road on the purchase of a needed piece of equipment for both Water and Sewer and the Road department, which had been budgeted. The Public Works Director on the Committee's diection had looked at 'Outsourcing" the work of this machine and provided the figures of about $750.00 per day with a use of an average of 2 days a week or 100 days a year. The machine costs $63,000 and has a useful life of 25 years. What the Committee did makes no sense at all under any reasonable standard. The want to spend a potential $75,000 for one year instead of $63,000 total for 25 years. We have people in the road department that are trained to run this machine. The other issue that was brought out maybe inadvertantly was that the Water and Sewer Department still has $2.5-$3 million in surplus which has been the result of over charges to rate payers. Granted the have given back less than half of the overcharges through a payment holliday but it seems as if they are intent of holding the rest in their piggy bank for something.
wally September 26, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Dan: as to the comparison of the $63k and $75k, you don't portray an accurate analysis as you leave out the cost of salaries needed by the town to run the purchased machine. I'm not sure what the true #'s are and maybe someone from the town or TC can let the people know, but you really need to be fair until you know ALL the facts.
Dan Grant September 26, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Wally, LOL, You always find a reason for their incompetance. The people needed to operate this machine are on the payroll already so that doesn't represent any additional cost unless the Township is planning on laying off more people. The maintenance is not figured however understand that the difference between the two plans is $25.00 per day over the life of the machine and $750.00 per day for outsourcing. If the use is as claimed you are talking about $75,000.00 per year until the Committee wakes up. Fair, in this case, would have been for the Township Committee to have faith in what their department head's research said.
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 27, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Assessment by Public Works have a general predisposition towards purchases and increased payroll, since favors can be scored and union dues can be increased. But let's assume that they are correct. Someone has to operate that excavator, right? 100 days times average union rate of, say, $50/hr equals $40,000 in a single year, plus whatever insane benefits the collective bargain agreement spells out. Multiply it by 25 years, then add the accumulating cost of diesel, insurance, and maintenance, and then do the comparison. Oh, and if we have extra people on the payroll, lay them off - they are obviously not doing anything right now. Dan, I really cannot figure how Montville residents elected you to anything. I'd say voting fraud, it's the only thing you Democrats expert in.
Dan Grant September 27, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Max you moved here in 2005 acording to you, which was the last year I was in office after having served 15 years. You, I assume, moved here for a reason and it couldn't be that we were the cheapest town you could move to. All your comments are the same. You hate Unions. Period. You either didn't understand or perhaps didn't read the part that pointed out that some of our Employees can operate this equipment and in fact that we have and have used this equipment for the past 25 years. It requires NO additional employment and the studies presented and common sense both say that the Township Commitee members who voted no don't have a clue as to what they are talking about. It isn't suprising that you agree with them. You make assumptions about the Bargaining Contracts with our local public employees without ever having read the Contract to understand what it says. You don't have a clue as to how many employees we have and the work load of those employees. These employees that can operate this type of equipment don't just stand around waiting to use it. They work hard and multi-task. We have a smaller work force in Public Works and are stressed to the point that talking about laying more people off is just stupid.
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 27, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Dan, either concentrate on discussing me or on what you have to write, Dan, because doing both is, unfortunately, beyond your mental capacity. You have to choose one version and stick with it: either our Public Works people are overworked (in which case we'd have to hire one more to operate the excavator), or they aren't (in which case one of them can be safely fired as of now). Choose your poison.
David September 27, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Max, you truly are clueless. Do you honestly believe someone sits in this machine everyday, all day long. I will go slow so you can keep up. Lets say I have four employees. They work a set schedule. they get paid according to that schedule. Whether they cut grass, pull weeds, paint curbs or run an excavator is irrelevant. They are on the set payroll. Whatever your salary and benefit cost is for that particular year, is what it is. It does not fluctuate based on the actual chore they happen to be assigned for that scheduled period. Mr. Grant is correct, The only additional cost is the amount for the purchase of the machine. You want to take away the tools of the tradesman and then complain they do no work. Next time a water main goes bad, don't complain grab a shovel and start digging.
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 27, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I assume, David, that you're on the public payroll. It means that you're posting this on my tax dime, correct?
Dan Grant September 27, 2012 at 02:50 PM
You should talk. Yes they are understaffed but that isn't going to change with this committee and yes they still have people that can operate that machine. They do other work as well wwhn they are not operating the equipment. They are a general purpose work force but this isn't bout them. It is about the lack of knowledge on the part of the people who sit on the Township Committee.
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 27, 2012 at 03:05 PM
No, Dan, it is about "them". If the Public Works team are as overworked as you claim, the time operating the equipment will either come at expense of other priorities, or yield hefty overtime pay (which is likely what the whole fuss is about). In any case, I struggle to imagine what Montville has to do with an excavator two times a week. If we have *that* many problems with the water pipes I'd like to chat with whoever paid for laying them in.
wally September 27, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Dan: Not giving a reason for anything, just pointing out how the analysis should be done, and basically saying that if you feel so strongly about theway the #s were derived that you should ask them for the analysis, it should be available. And yes the operators are on the payroll already, but now they are taking their time away from other activities, so the cost should be factored in.
Dan Grant September 27, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Wally, I did see the analysis. It seems accurate to me. Their job is public works, so all of it is established on a most needed basis. Whatever other activities they are doing if you add $750.00 per day because you have a person qualified to run this equipment and you have them triming roadside grass or working on fields seems to me to be an awfull waste of experience and very costly for the Township.
Joe G September 27, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Outsourcing is a great idea, as opposed to buying a capital item. What is the justification beyond "needed in an emergency", how many times a year do we dig? Beyond buying equipment there will be a maintenance contract for up keep of the equipment, training of employees, etc. I'm sure the outsource option will save the tax payer money. In private industry we outsource often, and where emergency situations exist, we have a thing called a service contract to ensure the vendor performs in a timely manner. Let's not buy assets that will not give me a return on investment.. Stop wasting our money.
Dan Grant September 27, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Joe G. I suggest you re-read the Article and pay particular attention to the fact that A. this replaces 25 year old equipment. B. We have trained operators on staff. C. This equipment is used on average 2 times a week or 100 times per year. That means outsourcing at the rate of $75,000 per year as opposed to owning equipment for $63,000.00 which over the life of the machine will cost $25.00 per day. I know there are people who automatically believe outsourcing saves money and get all excited but it doesn't always work well. What is really amazing to me is the fact that a $2.5-3 Million surplus goes unmentioned. Now there is some outsourcing, Rate Payers have had that money outsourced from their pockets.
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 27, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Dan, the $25 a day number has been debunked. You *must* add the labor costs, unless you want to admit that you union buddies in the Public Works are idling on taxpayer's penny. You also must add maintenance, insurance, repairs, and not-so-small price of diesel. Moreover, 100 days a year is a ridiculous estimate on its face. How many days is the excavator used now?
Joe G September 28, 2012 at 02:33 AM
The three committee members did a great job in voting this down! Its a good thing you were outsourced from the committee, because this is a great example of a bad decision if it was passed.
Dan Grant September 28, 2012 at 12:03 PM
You guys keep inventing your own facts to support a bad idea. We have these machines now but they are at the end of their life cycle. We have employees that can run these machines but that is not the only thing they are capable of or do. They are employees no matter what. The 100 days are the estimate of the head of the Road Department and the Water and Sewer Department. If you want to say he is making that number up, than back it up because he did. I also continue to see no comment from you guys about the Reserve that has been taken from the rate payers which was also a part of this article. BTW This money for the machine has already been taken from your pockets because the money was in this years budget. So you have already paid for the machine. Do you trust the Committee to give it back? Joe G. You can use your full name. We are all neighbors aren't we?
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 28, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Dan, I'd like to know how the head of the Road Dept backed up his 100 day estimate. If Montville needs an excavator 100 days a week, why aren't we using it so often now? Anyway, if you're hell bent on providing Public Works folk with overtime, I have a suggestion that you may want to push to the TC. Why cannot we *share* an excavator with neighboring towns, say Kinnelon and/or Lincoln Park? Most of the costs will be halved, while the benefit is the same, and I'm sure they need to do about as much digging as we do.
Dan Grant September 28, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Max , you are just getting foolish now. No one said anything about overtime. No one says we don't on occasion share equipment but as Dave correctly said, you take away the tools don't blame the workers. Basically you and Joe G. set up your own incorrect facts to support an incorrect position. This has nothing to do with Unions and has everything to do with the proper operation of the Township. This Township Committee has shown they are incompetent in a number of ways.
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 28, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Dan, you do not need to *say* about the unions, everyone knows that Democrats and public unions are best buddies and grease each other's hand at every opportunity. Funny that you parrot your own debunked talking points and address neither math nor my proposal of equipment sharing.
Dan Grant September 28, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Max, This has nothing to do with either Unions or Democrats and Republicans. This is about a group of people who make bad policy that costs tax payers money. In every post you show how little you know about Montville Township and it's operations.
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 28, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Dan, I know that age affects thinking process, you don't have to prove in every post. There will be *no* savings if you account for all expenses (labor, gas, insurance, maintenance, repair, and storage) and not just the direct cost of purchase. Not only that, I questioned the 100 days a year estimate and you have no response besides "my union buddy said so".
Dan Grant September 28, 2012 at 05:50 PM
You are an idiot and maybe you feel that older people can't count. Where is your estimate of costs except in your head. We have those machines now and we have the labor in place already. WE we run and store the machines now and they are covered by a blanket insurance policy for the Township. It isn't like you buying another car. You don't have a clue about municipal operations and on top of everything else the money for this machine is already in the Capital budget so now you will pay for something that you won't even get.
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 28, 2012 at 06:18 PM
See, Dan, my goal is to decrease the township tax payroll, whereas yours is to increase it, so you keep on beclowning yourself. Now, let's debunk your drivel: 1) If we have the manpower to operate the excavator, it can be sacked if we don't. That alone would be a significant 5-digit saver (6-digit if it's a full-time job) every year. 2) Blanket insurance changes upon renewal. The more stuff is added to it, the more chances it will grow. There is no free cheese except you know where (wait, strike that, perhaps you don't). 3) If the money for the machine is in the capital budget, I'm sure there are some worthy projects it could be used for - like extending the Changebridge walkway, building the bypass route around Exxon on Main st, or maybe saving them to decrease the next year outlay.
Dan Grant September 30, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Your never ending stream of insults aside what you don't get is that these workers also do other things when not working the excavator. Laying them off would be stupid. We have had this equipment for decades and it needs replacement. The Road Department and Water and Sewer departments are short handed as it is. So that isn't an option. Again you ignore the larger issue of the multi-million surplus probable because you aren't part of the system and only care about yourself. You have never demonstrated a sense of cummunity that has developed the Township you currently see and this Township Committee is trying their best to turn the Township backward. Capital Expenses are not automatically bad. You represent what is wrong with that thinking. You can't even explain what the tax effect is because you don't even understand the numbers or care to learn them. You have no regard for the employees and volunteers who actually make the Township work. You are not alone unfortunately. You still haven't expressed the positive reasons you moved to Montville Township and I doubt that you could given your constantly negative attitude.
Mrs. Smith September 30, 2012 at 06:38 PM
The Dan vs Max banter is getting old. Bottom line, we have a $2-3 million dollar surplus thanks to the DPW overcharging us for years. In effect, we have already purchased this item. BUY the excavator. It's a one shot deal vs outsourcing where the cost could exceed the purchase. BUT at the same time, keep our sewer rates low. Enough is enough!
Mrs. Smith September 30, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Oh, and buy the way Dan, please PAY your water bill. Your name appeared on a list posted on the Montville Patch regarding homes who owe for taxes and water bills.
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 30, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Do you Marxists have any other answer to any question besides spending, lying, and opposition bashing? Can you decide already if the Public Works are short on manpower or idling, you can't have it both ways. And actually, Dan, you were part of the reason I moved in. I decided that a municipality that discarded a pol you like a full diaper can't be entirely bad. :)
Maxim Sapozhnikov September 30, 2012 at 06:53 PM
I'd rather have an extended sewer fee holiday, Mrs. Smith, than an overpriced piece of equipment that we cannot even agree to share with neighboring towns. As they say, "never invest in anything that eats or needs repair".
Dan Grant September 30, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Mrs. Smith. Speaking for everyone on that list I am sure no one wants to be there but it isn't going to stop me from talking about the issues I see as important. It also isn't the DPW that sets rates for water and sewer. It is the Township Township Committee that does that.

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