The city administration will ask Columbus Council Tuesday to have Internal Auditor John Redmond conduct an audit of the city’s aging fleet of garbage trucks.
“They wanted an independent opinion on what condition the trucks are in, how many miles are on them, how much they’re spending on repairs, how much we’re spending for fuel, that sort of thing,” Redmond said. “I’m probably going to have a mechanic who does heavy equipment working with me on it.”
Last month, Public Works Director Pat Biegler brought some of her drivers and mechanics to address council, telling the councilors that some of the trucks are so old that they’re becoming dangerous to drive and next to impossible to repair.
Almost 80 percent of the fleet is well over the recommended age for such trucks, seven years, and many are more than twice that old, Biegler said.
“We have 52 trucks that have reached pretty much critical mass, out of the 66 we need,” Biegler said. “We are approaching a point where we are going to have insufficient trucks to pick up yard waste, recycling and potentially even trash, within the next couple of years, if we don’t make a move forward in some way.”
There may be a lot of savings if you replace trucks that you’re spending $20,000 or $30,000 a year on repairs and a lot more money on fuel, it may be cheaper to replace them than to keep patching them up.
John Redmond, internal auditor
Redmond said the audit should take several weeks and could be longer, but there is a lot of work involved.
“I want specific details about each truck,” Redmond said. “The model, when it was purchased, how many miles are on it. I want to look at what the initial cost was, maintenance expenditures as well as major repairs like rebuilding an engine or transmission.”
Redmond said new trucks will get much better gas mileage and will take much less for maintenance.
“There may be a lot of savings if you replace trucks that you’re spending $20,000 or $30,000 a year on repairs and a lot more money on fuel, it may be cheaper to replace them than to keep patching them up,” Redmond said.
Tony Perry, lead mechanic, or technician as they are known now, works on trucks and supervises other technicians.
“I’ve been with Public Works since 1987, and in my 29 years, I have never seen our fleet in such dire condition, and it’s not because of maintenance, it’s because of age,” Perry told councilors last month. “On a daily basis, I send trucks to a contracted metal fabricator to have repairs done on stress cracks, cross members and body mounts. We do not have the materials to manufacture parts in-house.”
After the city employees addressed council, Councilor Skip Henderson apologized for the drivers having to put themselves in danger to make a living.
“I just want to apologize for allowing you to get into those trucks,” Henderson said. “Pat (Biegler) does a great job coming in and telling us we need new trucks. But I’ll be honest with you, this is the first time I’ve seen the photographs and heard the stories of drivers in dangerous situations.
“I will promise you, I don’t know how, but we’re going to have to address this. It could result in cuts elsewhere, but this has got to be our priority.”
Council meets Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of the City Services Center off Macon Road near the main library.