MENOMINEE — The Menominee Public Safety/Public Works Committee Tuesday discussed the possible lease or purchase of a front-end loader for the Department of Public Works.

According to City Engineer Val Mellon, the existing loader is a 1994 model, which has, “excessive wear after nearly 25 years of continual use and is not fiscally prudent to continue to repair.”

“Each year the department of public works plows snow, picks up brush, leaves and compost from city residents and delivers gravel and asphalt for patching major and local roads, streets and alleys,” she explained. “The loader is an essential piece of equipment for all of these operations.”

The proposed purchase of a Caterpillar 926 Wheel Loader was discussed in the spring, “as part of the budget review for regular DPW operations and the replacement cost of a loader was proposed for inclusion in the 2018-19 capital improvement budget.”

“During the first week of May during spring brush pick-up operations, the brake system completely failed,” Mellon said.

The department of public works obtained a quote from Roland Equipment Company in Escanaba, Mich., of $22,466 to repair the brake system and replace other seals necessary to get it back up and running.

Last year, Mellon said, the department spent approximately $20,000 on the same loader to replace bushings and other parts, “that were completely worn out making it unsafe for operation.”

“At this rate we are spending $20,000 a year on equipment that might bring a fraction of this amount if sold at auction,” she said. “Since that time the large loader and backhoe with a front bucket have been used to achieve some level of productivity. 

“However, there is a loss of efficiency and productivity when using these pieces of equipment that are not the proper size. The large loader is very old and we cannot get replacement parts for it, so we really prefer to use it sparingly with the snow blower for critical downtown snow removal operations and other special projects.”

The cost of the proposed equipment is not to exceed $157,563 plus $20,000 for the multi-purpose bucket and pallet forks.

However, City Manger Tony Graff pointed out there is another option instead of purchasing — to lease.

“Our front-end loader was identified that it could become a problem because it’s on its last breath of life — we basically got a life out of it,” he said. “We have a different option really in regards to the ideas on how to replace them.”

Graff said the city has looked at leasing alternatives and found the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA, in Staples, Minn.) has a program for municipalities to use a cooperative contract approach for purchasing the equipment.

“As part of their selection process, equipment companies are evaluated against multiple criteria to determine best value and best life cycle cost,” he explained. “Caterpillar was found to have the highest scores for pricing, customer service and warranties. This ensures that municipalities get the best value for their budget.”

According to Graff, numerous Michigan municipalities use the NJPA to purchase equipment. The local dealer for Caterpillar is Fabick Cat with offices in both Green Bay and Marquette, Mich.

“I’ve used this association throughout my career and it’s very beneficial,” he said.

The lease would be for a five-year arrangement for $15,000 a year. For an additional $6,200, the company would provide all preventative maintenance.

“The cost is all-inclusive and we’d have the option to purchase the front-end loader at the end of the lease,” he said.

 In another matter:

¦ The Public Safety/Public Works Committee approved the 13th street consultant recommendation. The reconstruction project is from 34th to 38th avenues on 13th Street and will begin in summer of 2019.