The Seymour Department of Public Works can no longer wait to purchase a new automated trash truck.
Director Chad Dixon said the beds of the trucks currently being used are rotting away, allowing trash to escape during transit.
Some trash is ending up on top of the trucks’ fuel tanks, too, making it time-consuming to fuel the trucks up, he added.
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“They’ve got to bring them back to the shop, spray off the fuel tank and then go to the fuel market,” he told the Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety during a March 26 meeting.
A new truck is going to cost around $300,000, Dixon said. The board of works gave him approval to purchase the truck as an emergency measure to keep trash collection on schedule in the city.
“It is a little different because we went with a Heil side loader,” he said. “They have a good reputation in our industry. One of the differences and selling points is it is a full-eject versus the other trucks have a dump bed. This will help reduce the risk of a rollover.”
Dixon hopes to have the truck in operation before Make Seymour Shine Week, which begins April 13, but that schedule is in question due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
The truck is being purchased from Central Indiana Truck Equipment Corp. in Indianapolis using the department’s landfill fund and an upcoming bond the city already had planned to issue this year.
DPW has a total of four automated trucks in its fleet. Two are used daily for trash pickup, one for recycle collection and the fourth is currently not in operation, Dixon said.
“It has had several mechanical issues in recent years,” Dixon said. “It has had continuous hydraulic problems and electrical issues.”
Two of the trucks are 2009 models, one is a 2015 model and the nonworking one is a 2012, Dixon said. They typically have an eight- to 10-year lifespan.
In 2018, then-DPW Director Bill Everhart requested the city purchase new trucks after two quit working due to blown engines. Instead, the city invested $40,000 to put a new engine in one to get it working again.
Dixon said the upkeep of the trucks has taken a heavy toll on the department’s maintenance budget.
“Our trucks will continue to demand more in-depth and costly fixes if changes aren’t made,” he said.
He requested the board of works allow him to start a schedule to replace vehicles on a more regular basis.
“We are currently assessing when would be the most cost-efficient time to replace the trucks for the future,” Dixon said. “We need to have a proactive plan with a timed execution that will benefit our department and the taxpayers.”
In the meantime, Dixon said the department has had to make adjustments.
“We’ve had some occurrences when we’ve been late picking up trash,” he said. “Also, employees have had to work overtime to get the routes done.”
When trucks break down, the department’s mechanics do what they can to get them back on the road, Dixon said.
“Once a fleet reaches a certain point, it no longer makes sense to continue throwing money at it just to keep it on the road while only getting half of its efficiency doing the job,” he said.