Marietta Council discusses buying new boom truck

Requests for a couple of big-ticket expenditures came before Marietta City Council’s streets and transportation committee Wednesday.

The first request was for an estimated $189,000 to purchase a new boom and bucket truck that would allow city streets crews to do more tree trimming and removal.

Streets superintendent Todd Stockel said the boom on the 19-year-old truck the city currently uses only has a reach of 55 feet, and any tree work that requires higher elevation is generally contracted out to Black’s Tree Service.

“We’ve paid out approximately $110,000 to Black’s since 2010,” said safety-service director Jonathan Hupp. “If we had a truck with a longer boom it would allow the city crews to do many more trees.”

The proposed truck, with a 75-foot boom, would cost $189,000 through the state purchasing program, but Stockel said a local vendor could provide the boom and truck chassis for around $182,000.

“Would this eliminate the need for outside vendor contracts completely when we need tree service?” asked Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward.

“We would still have to rent a crane for some of the large sycamore trees, and I can’t guarantee we won’t still have to contract some work,” Stockel said. But he noted the streets crews probably take down about 25 trees a year, and the average cost for a contractor to remove those could range between $1,000 and $1,800 per tree.

Stockel said a pole building to house the new truck would also have to be constructed.

Streets and transportation committee chairman Denver Abicht, D-at large, asked Stockel to work with the city administration to obtain a firmer cost for the truck and shelter and bring that information back to the committee.

Rights-of-way

Another funding request was brought before the streets committee by city engineer Joe Tucker who asked for $227,700 that would be used to purchase rights-of-way on six parcels of property that will be needed for the Seventh, Pike and Greene streets intersection traffic and pedestrian safety upgrade project.

He suggested the money be fronted from the city’s capital improvement fund which would be reimbursed by federal and state funding after the right of way purchases are completed.

Tucker said each of the six parcel purchases would have to be approved by council before the transactions could take place.

Shelter services

Also on Wednesday Steve Herron, shelter manager at the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley, asked council’s finance committee for a $400 increase in the monthly amount the city pays for the animal shelter’s services.

“Sixty percent of all our calls are from resident complaints within the city,” Herron said. “And that does not include calls from the police or sheriff’s department on complaints in the city limits.”

He said 1,325 dogs were taken to the shelter last year, and 795 of those came out of Marietta. And the number of cats taken in from the city was 920.

The shelter also spays or neuters animals that are adopted out, Herron noted.

Since 2001 the shelter has received $1,200 a month from the city, and prior to that the city’s monthly contribution was only $700, according to Hupp.

Herron’s request would increase the current monthly amount to $1,600. He said it takes $25,000 to $30,000 a month to operate the shelter, and much of that funding comes from grants and donations.

He said Washington County provides a total $5,000 a month for the shelter.

Vukovic, who chairs the finance committee, said the requested monies would have to come out of the city’s general fund and he wanted to consult with the city auditor and assistant safety-service director to be sure the general fund could handle the additional amount.

In other business, the city was reimbursed a total $42,293 for hiring summer workers through the Washington County Jobs and Family Services summer youth employment program.

The city hires the temporary seasonal employees through the program every summer.

“This has proved to be a good relationship with Jobs and Family Services. We couldn’t hire these summer workers without that funding,” Vukovic said.