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Salem selectmen sign off on new truck for Public Works

SALEM — The Public Works utilities department is getting a new pickup truck to replace a 2001 Ford Ranger that was too rusted out to pass a state inspection.

On Monday, selectmen approved spending just over $17,000 on a new pickup truck for the department. If there is not money left over in the 2014 budget for the purchase, the board allowed the use of the water and sewer department’s unassigned fund balance for the purchase.

“The utilities department has a couple of Ford Ranger pickups, and we replaced one of these a couple years ago,” said Town Manager Keith Hickey. “We have a 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck that went through the state inspection process last week or the week before and the vehicle failed because of significant rust damage to the frame and underbody. Basically, it can’t be inspected. It’s not roadworthy, and it cannot be repaired.”

Public Works Director Rick Russell looked at several alternatives for replacing the truck, including checking to see whether there were any other town-owned vehicles the utilities department could use. Hickey said there is a one-ton truck the Public Works Department uses during the winter, but that the operation cost and potential wear and tear on the vehicle made it cost prohibitive.

Russell did some research and determined the town would be better off buying a new, two-wheel drive Ford pickup at a cost of just over $17,000.

Selectmen unanimously approved using the unassigned fund balance for the purchase, if needed, but did ask if it would have been possible to determine that a new truck was needed during the last budget process.

“Did you know during the budget season that this truck was this bad?” Selectman James Keller asked.

Russell said it wasn’t known that the truck was in that bad of shape until it went in for the state inspection. If the department had thought the truck wouldn’t be able to pass inspection, Russell said there would have been a request for a new truck in the department’s budget.

“We were hoping we could nurse this for another year,” he said.

Keller asked if it would be possible for the town to inspect vehicles prior to the beginning of the town budget process.

“The inspection is done by the state in March, and to have us go through and inspect these vehicles a second time during the year is time consuming from a labor standpoint,” said Hickey.

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