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City Council receives comparison report on Willmar's private street sweeper service

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council this week received a report from the Public Works/Safety Committee on the first year of private street-sweeping service.

The council in May voted to contract on a trial basis with Cleaning and Restoration Services of Willmar to provide additional street cleaning service in 2010 using its vacuum-type sweeper, and delayed a decision on whether the city should buy a vacuum sweeper.

The city has a broom-type sweeper and was considering the possibility of buying a vacuum sweeper to remove finer particles from streets to comply with requirements under the state's storm water pollution control permit.

The committee last week discussed the results of the company's work and asked staff to compare city and private costs before deciding whether the city should continue such service. The council received the committee's report as information during Monday's meeting.

Starting in June for a six-week period, weather permitting, the vacuum sweeper completed one pass through the city, according to the report by Chairman Doug Reese. The time invoiced was 183 hours at $69 per hour with approximately 136.5 cubic yards of debris collected for $12,627.

City staff indicated the vacuum machine did not pick up the type of material they thought it would. When the vacuum machine crossed storm water catch basins, the vacuum machine would lose suction, according to the report.

During the same time period, the city-owned sweeper picked up 310 cubic yards of material, Reese reported.

Council member Ron Christianson said he talked to Patrick Boyle of Cleaning and Restoration Services after last week's committee meeting.

Christianson said Boyle told him that he followed the city sweeper and picked up after the city sweeper. Christianson asked Holly Wilson, acting public works director, if Boyle's statement was correct, "so that what he picked up -- the 136.5 cubic yards -- was what the (city sweeper) did not pick up?''

Wilson said she did not know that that was necessarily the case. Wilson said she would need to verify Boyle's statement with city staff.

Also this week, the council received the Finance Committee report from Chairman Denis Anderson. The report included responses to questions from a concerned citizen about various items in the mayor's proposed 2011 budget.

Among those was a question about the need for a $252,943 grader, a $195,000 loader, a $175,000 bucket and $71,220 tractor for the Public Works Department if some services for which those items are intended are contracted out.

Anderson reported the equipment may not be needed, depending on whether or not the council decides to contract out certain services. Finance Committee members had earlier asked city staff to take a look at the possibility of contracting for services.

A presentation will be made to the committee in December, Anderson said.

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