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Cost next step being considered in sweeper suggestion

WILLMAR -- The city of Willmar Public Works Department is recommending the city buy a new vacuum-type street sweeper capable of removing finer debris particles than the present brush-type sweeper to comply with stricter storm water pollution prevention rules.

But first, the Public Works staff must compare a private contractor's street-sweeping cost estimates with city street-sweeping cost estimates before the purchase moves forward.

The cost comparison was requested Tuesday by the Willmar City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee after the committee received a cost analysis and comparison from Patrick Boyle, chief executive officer of Cleaning and Restoration Services Inc. of Willmar.

The council last week sent the issue of the sweeper purchase back to the committee after council member Ron Christianson said Boyle was interested in submitted a street-sweeping proposal. The committee at the July 28 meeting took no action on recommending the purchase of a $172,000 sweeper under the state contract because two members wanted more information on cost comparisons.

Christianson said he understood that the city is required to remove additional material from city streets and he suggested the city consider hiring a contractor to provide the additional sweeping service. The council referred the sweeper issue the back to committee and asked that Boyle be present to make a proposal.

Boyle has been in business for six years and said his company cleans the streets in a number of surrounding smaller cities.

According to Boyle's 10-year cost analysis, the city's cost -- based on the price of the vehicle, and labor, fuel and maintenance costs based on costs from other cities and machine operations -- was estimated at $471,665, compared with Boyle's cost of $312,000.

Boyle's proposal was higher, however, in an estimate prepared by Holly Wilson, assistant city engineer, and presented to the committee by Public Works Director Mel Odens. Using Boyle's rental charge of $65 per hour, the yearly cost of renting the sweeping service would be $93,600 compared with $66,506 a year by buying a sweeper.

Odens said Boyle did not include the cost of maintenance and replacing worn out parts in the estimate for renting his machine, while he did include the cost of parts and maintenance in his estimate of the city's costs for buying a machine.

Boyle indicated he would not charge the city for maintenance and repair costs.

Odens said comparing costs was a good exercise.

"Sometimes it's good to ask yourself are you doing the most effective way to do operations for the city,'' he said. "In our calculations, we clearly are and we're not increasing the budgets.''

He said city staff will compare the numbers and respond at the next council meeting, which will be Aug. 17.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150