City officials struggling with the skyrocketing cost of equipment managed to save more than $67,000 on a new excavator, one of many vehicles being purchased through this year's $4.85 million capital budget.
Jeff Lehman, public works director, told City Council members last week that he'd be changing the specifications for the excavator, which was budgeted at $200,000, to save money. By getting one that runs on tracks instead of rubber tires, he was able to cut the cost down to $132,766.
The vehicle will be able to perform just as well as its rubber-tire alternative, if not better, says City Councilman George Spitale, D-At Large and Public Works Committee chairman.
''As far as maneuverability, it's better - especially in the mud,'' said Spitale, who was a longtime employee of the public works department.
Mark Schlemmer, an engineer with the public works department, agreed - though he said one of the main motivations was saving money.
''The track option had a lot to do with savings,'' Schlemmer said.
Prices for the 17 new pieces of equipment financed by the capital budget have generally been higher than expected as the cost of fuel, energy and metal continue to skyrocket. But the savings from the excavator is enough to offset most, if not all, of the extra money that's had to been paid out so far.
City Council members approved the purchase of the new excavator at a meeting Monday. They also approved the purchase of an aerial device for the parks department's new bucket truck for $97,524; a new roof for the parks department building for $63,400; a new fire department command vehicle for $35,324; and a new police department speed trailer for $8,935.