The city is looking to lease-purchase four new street sweepers for $1 million three years after it spent $1.24 million to buy a fleet of seven machines.
Public works director Manny Ojeda told council members the sweepers purchased three years ago are expensive to maintain and suffer from breakdowns.
“I don’t believe they can do the job we want them to do,” said Ojeda on Tuesday evening. “Everyone knows the downtime we have been having with these sweepers.”
The city purchased 7 RAVO 5 machines that are made in the Netherlands and used in major European capitals like Helsinki, Rome, and Berlin. The sweepers are also used in Washington D.C., according to the manufacturer’s documents.
Paterson is looking to acquire 4 TYMCO Model 600 regenerative air sweepers through a five-year lease-purchase agreement for $909,800. The city will incur $101,580 in interest pushing the price for the machines to $1,011,380, according to the purchase resolution before the council.
“It’s a hefty price tag,” said council president William McKoy.
“All this is grant money,” said Ojeda. Ojeda said the city plans to pay for the machines through grant monies from the Clean Communities and Recycling grants.
McKoy sought a list of the grants that will be issued to pay for the sweepers. Under the lease-purchase agreement, the city is required to pay $184,080 every year, according to the resolution. It’s not clear whether the grant money will cover just this year’s lease payment or the entire cost of the purchase.
Are we still going to be able to do clean communities programs? asked Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman.
“Yes,” replied Ojeda.
Cotton said the city was “filthy” last year when most of the machines were out of service due to a payment dispute between the city and the Bellville-based Northeast Sweepers which sold the city the RAVO machines. The city did not have a maintenance agreement with the vendor, but relied on it to handle repairs through purchase orders.
The city owed the vendor $140,000. Once the city made a payment the vendor sent mechanics to the city and the machines were back in operation. The city blames the machines for the breakdowns while the vendor blames the city. Indeed, maintenance records reviewed by the Paterson Times state the city was doing a poor job maintaining the machines. Often, operators neglected to take care of the machines or handle basic maintenance.
“The reverse pedal is bad. The two left rear tires are flat and the machine is shaking. Fan needs to be cleared out ASAP! Operator should be taking a little better care of the machine,” read one maintenance report from October 3rd, 2014.
The council president asked the administration to see a copy of the maintenance agreement to avoid future disputes with vendors over repairs and to avoid a replay of the past summer when streets were not swept for weeks.
“The question is are these the right machines?” asked McKoy.
“We don’t know that,” said Cotton.
“We need to know. We can’t do that again. We did that last time and we got burnt,” said McKoy. “I can’t support this as it stands right now. I don’t think the analysis is broad enough. We didn’t look at all of the vehicles that are available. We’re just comparing this with the one we have. We left the Tymcos because there were complaints.”
McKoy asked what the city plans to do with the other machines. Ojeda said the city will continue to use them on smaller streets and parking lots.
Alex Mendez, councilman at-large, wanted a presentation comparing the different types of machines available on the market.
The city has put 3 of the old Tymcos back into service. Ojeda said these machines are easy to maintain and despite being 10-12 years old continue to work.
McKoy inquired whether the city had to go out to bid to purchase these machines. Business administrator Nellie Pou said the machines are being bought through the Houston-Galveston Area Council which is a process similar to buying through state contracts.
“Taxpayers will be happy to see these on our streets,” remarked Luis Velez, 5th Ward councilman. Taxpayers may not be overjoyed to spend another million to purchase sweepers so soon after making a big buy three years ago.