A snowy winter road in Smithers. The Town recently approved a $65,000 budget realignment for the purchase of a new tractor for the Town’s fleet at their August 13 council meeting. Director of Works and Operations Roger Smith said that the decision was made for a number of reasons - namely that the backhoe was still in pretty good condition for its age. (File photo)

Council approves budget realignment for snow-clearing tractor

The $52,750 purchase will delay replacement of a backhoe

Upset by how long it took the Town’s snow removal fleet to clear the sidewalks in 2018?

At their August 13 meeting, council approved a $65,000 budget realignment from the Town’s 2019 Capital Equipment Replacement Plan to purchase an additional tractor for the fleet.

Council also gave approval to Director of Works and Operations Roger Smith to make the purchase of the vehicle — a 2009 Trackless MT6 Tractor — for $52,750 plus taxes from Joe Johnson Equipment Ltd.

The money will come out of funds that were originally budgeted for a scheduled 2019 replacement of the Town’s 2002 John Deere backhoe.

Smith said the decision was made for a number of reasons — namely, the backhoe was still in pretty good condition for its age.

“Although the [backhoe] was approved for replacement in 2019, it was decided due to its condition [and] low operating hours it would not need to be replaced this year,” Smith said in an email to The Interior News.

Smith noted that while a backhoe is a necessary piece of equipment, it is not required for the Town to the extent that, for example, a sidewalk-clearing tractor is.

The decision to buy the tractor, he said, came after an evaluation of the current Works and Operations fleet recommended the addition of a third piece of specialized equipment for the purpose of maintaining winter sidewalks.

The recommendation comes, the report noted, as a result of an expansion of residential subdivisions and sidewalks in the community.

“Although the entire sidewalk network can be maintained with two machines most of the time, a third machine would allow one machine to be taken out of service for regular scheduled maintenance, or deal with unexpected breakdowns without compromising service delivery.”

This was the case last winter, when the report notes unexpected breakdowns resulted in multiple service delays and complaints from residents as Town staff were unable to clear snow from sidewalks in a timely fashion.

READ MORE: Paving budget and choices by Smithers council

Smith said that on top of the logistical need for the tractor, the Town was also getting a pretty good deal: the tractor has just 2300 hours and is an identical model to the Town’s 2012 Trackless MT6, which has over twice as many hours on it.

The report notes that a new tractor would with attachments would cost approximately $175,000.

On top of clearing snow, the report mentioned that the tractor would also be able to mow grass and could be used to address the need for a dedicated mower for the Chandler Park soccer fields.

The purchase is being funded from the Town’s Machinery and Equipment Replacement Reserve.

READ MORE: Smithers invests new $5 million legacy fund into one-year guaranteed investment certificate

Discussing the purchase with The Interior News, Smith noted that the Town’s finance policy does allow him to source and purchase specialized equipment, but only if it’s due to be replaced in the next five years, hence the budget realignment request.

“A good example would if we found a great deal on a used piece of equipment due for replacement in 2021 [like a] street sweeper, I could move forward with a direct purchase without prior approval of council.”


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