Upon further review, new equipment is approved


Jackson Department of Pubic Works Superintendent Fred Rasiewicz will get his new equipment; all of the resolutions authorizing the contracts for the equipment passed, most by a vote of 2-1, at the Dec. 8 meeting of the Jackson Township Council.

These resolutions had been tabled at the Nov. 24 council meeting in order to re-evaluate the necessity of the equipment.

DPW will receive two skid steers (small machines with hydraulic arms), a tractor, and a backhoe. Also approved was the purchase of two leaf vacuums.

Before the vote, Rasiewicz presented to the council the benefits of the equipment and its expected uses. The advantage of the skid steer, he said, is its size. That particular equipment will primarily be used to maintain athletic fields and other public open space.

Past contracts for this maintenance, Rasiewicz said, ranged from $70,000 to $110,000 a year. Last year, DPW undertook this maintenance program itself, but without the proper equipment the process was very labor intensive and continued to be costly, he said.

Rasiewicz estimated the skid steers and accessories would cost about $68,000, a one-time investment. Performing this maintenance in-house saves the township about $40,000 a year, he explained.

Rasiewicz mentioned another situation in which the Shade Tree Commission acquired a grant to plant 200 trees around the township. This had to be done within six weeks or the commission would lose the grant. DPW did not have nimble enough equipment to go where the trees needed to be planted. The department had no tree spades, no augers and Rasiewicz had to rent the equipment.

DPW spent $17,125 on rentals this year. Rasiewicz mentioned that the department has no fork lifts, no road planers, no tree augers to plant trees and dig post holes, and no stump grinders. The new skid steers and accessories will save money in the long run, he told the council.

Rasiewicz also explained the need for the two new leaf vacuums. The department currently has five leaf vacuums ranging in age between 8 and 11 years.

At the height of leaf season, Rasiewicz said, he has one or two pieces of equipment down for maintenance at any given time. He said this faulty equipment has contributed to a delay in roadside leaf pick-up.

The new leaf vacuums have significantly improved safety features that the old pieces of equipment cannot match, the superintendent said.

Rasiewicz assured the council that the efficiency of the new vacuums will also cut overtime.

Councilwoman Ann Updegrave acknowledged the need for new equipment, but said she would have preferred that DPW inform the council as things fall into disrepair rather than requesting multiple items on one agenda at the end of the year.

Rasiewicz reminded the council that money for this equipment had been allocated in Jackson’s 2008 capital budget, so these requests were “no surprise.”

The council approved the resolutions for the new backhoe and leaf vacuums unanimously.

Councilman Ken Bressi moved to table all of the other related resolutions for lack of information, but received no second on that motion.

Councilman Scott Martin and Updegrave voted in support of each remaining resolution. Bressi voted no on those items.

Council President Mike Kafton and Councilwoman Bobbie Rivere were absent from the meeting.