NEW FRANKLIN In a unanimous vote on Nov. 1, New Franklin City Council approved the purchase of two Mack truck snow plow vehicles and the hiring of two seasonal truck drivers to establish a program to plow county and state roads, in addition to city roads.
Picking up the county and state road doubles the amount of miles the city will now be responsible to plow from 102 to 204.
"We have confidence in Bryan Kepler, city deputy service director, that he can make this program work in time for this winter," said councilwoman Andrea Norris.
Kepler concurred, saying that he and his six full-time drivers using the current fleet of six trucks, along with the two new employees and two additional trucks, can handle the 204 lane miles in the city.
"It will be trial and error this year, or if we would have waited until next season it would have been trial and error," he said.
City Finance Director Susan Cooke confirmed the city can purchase the 2017 Mack truck and 2015 Mack truck for a total $317,000 because the money is available in the Capital projects budget. Council had considered a lease program, recommended by Kepler, but Cooke recommended it would be best not to take on any debt. The truck purchases will be made from R & R Truck Sales, through the State of Ohio bid program. Delivery of the trucks is expected in early December.
With that decision, city council unanimously rejected a one-year contract from the Summit County Engineer’s Department for road salt and snow plowing costs. The county gave notice to Mayor Al Bollas in early October of the new contract. Bollas, who stated he was unhappy with the short notice, explained that if the city remained contracted with the county would have cost between $150,000 to $239,000 annually.
Council President David Stock said the savings of owning two trucks as a one-time cost outweighed paying $239,000 to the county annually. New Franklin was also the only city still receiving snow plow and salt services from the county.
"We have to get out of the grips of the county," he said.
"It will be a substantial savings," added Councilman Jim Cotts, who has supported the idea of eliminating the county’s help from the beginning.
For the past three meetings, council has discussed the pros and cons of switching to doing all plowing of city roads, plus county and state routes. The main concern of Bollas is safety and timeliness.
"It can snow in November, and we would have to have the trucks and drivers in place very soon," he said.
The hiring process for two experienced drivers with a CDL license was also a concern for Bollas and Cooke. She noted it will take time to advertise and then administer the Civil Service exam. Council passed a resolution to make the hourly pay between $15.00 and $16.50 per hour.
Kepler said he knows several people who would be good applicants for the job. He also told council he has asked the communties of Green and Barberton for back-up, since this a new undertaking for his staff.
"There will be a learining curve," Kepler said.