North Central Solid Waste Authority officials are charting a plan for improving their truck fleet.
Using the entity’s cash reserves, they will invest in two new polycart trucks and a new roll-off truck, Authority Manager Peter Fuller said in a Sept. 17 phone call.
The Authority has long been stuck in a vicious cycle with its fleet: the older the trucks get, the more maintenance they need, and so the more they cost. But the more they cost, the less able the Authority is to buy new trucks, so the fleet keeps getting older.
The faulty trucks put workers in danger and are not as efficient, driving up the amount of overtime employees require to complete routes.
Former Authority manager Joe Lewandowski took a look at the current trucks to determine what replacements are necessary.
“Your maintenance, it’s amazing what’s going on over there,” Lewandowski told the Authority Board in a Sept. 16 meeting. “Ramon is really, for what he’s had, he’s really kept things under control.”
He was referring to Authority mechanic Ramon Martinez, whom Fuller refers to as “a genius with a wrench.”
But more than Martinez’s “Jedi mechanic skills,” as Fuller calls them, are required if the Authority’s trucks are to run smoothly and safely.
In the middle of the month, four out of seven polycart trucks were down, two out of those four polycart trucks needed repairs and one was totaled, one out of two sideloaders was functioning and one out of four frontloaders needed work.
Along with buying new trucks to better the situation, Fuller, with the help of Lewandowski, plans to examine the routes to ensure drivers are loading the trucks as efficiently as possible and using them to their full capacity.
“The issue is to get the maximum use of each truck for what it’s designed to do, and that wasn’t done over the years,” Lewandowski said.
They will also come up with a plan to dispose of the trucks they are getting the least use out of, he said.
The Authority will use the money that comes from that disposal specifically for new trucks in the future, Fuller said in a Sept. 17 phone call.
The two new polycart trucks and the roll-off truck together will cost somewhere between $750,000 and $1 million, he said.
He is planning to take out loans to finance them and will allocate $250,000 from the Authority’s reserves to begin paying off the loans.
He said the Authority currently has about $320,000 more than what it needs in order to operate day to day.
For the loans, Fuller has approached the New Mexico Finance Authority and De Lage Landen Financial Services, Inc., and both entities have asked for exact details about the trucks he plans to purchase.
He reached out to five companies to get quotes for trucks, he said. One was no longer in business for trucks, two were unresponsive, and two replied.
The first quotes he received were for “gigantic city trucks,” he said, but the Authority is hoping to purchase smaller vehicles that can better navigate Rio Arriba County roads.
The goal is to have a more complete sketch of the purchases and loans before October’s Authority Board meeting, he said.