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.