Dysart et al is officially taking over winter maintenance in Harcourt township despite some uncertainty about the cost of the change.
Council decided on the shift during its June 25 meeting. They approved purchasing a new heavy-duty snow plow costing an estimated $265,000 and hiring a new staff person at approximately $73,880 per year to handle additional landfill maintenance and Harcourt road maintenance.
The Harcourt winter maintenance was previously handled by a contractor, but uncertainty in their continuation prompted staff to recommend the change.
Staff expect this will result in a service level increase in Harcourt.
“Having the work done properly, done to our level of service, should be the first priority,” Mayor Andrea Roberts said.
Director of public works Rob Camelon presented a cost analysis for the shift. He estimated it would cost the municipality $71,101 to do the work, compared to the $82,186 paid to the contractor last winter.
The gap does not take into account the additional level of service, with the previous contractor out 16 operational days less compared to the rest of the municipal fleet.
Were the contractor to meet municipal standards, it would have cost the municipality at least $107,474.
The municipally-estimated costs do not factor in the capital expense of a truck, which costs $15,200 per five-and-a-half month winter season, amortized over eight years.
Coun. John Smith questioned the figures and whether they properly factored in things like fuel and insurance.
“I’m not opposed to service level adjustment, but if we make those decisions without understanding the costs, I think we’re not doing the job,” he said.
Council pushed back and said Smith’s calculations were off and the staff numbers did factor in truck operational costs.
Roberts said regardless of the contractor’s old cost, if they cannot take on the contract again, the municipality would be hard pressed to find a replacement.
“If we put out an RFP, we’d get someone from Bancroft and it’d be expensive,” she said.
Deputy mayor Patrick Kennedy said even though the cost was disagreed on, the municipality should provide residents with a similar level of service.
“I don’t feel the people of Ward 3 need to be treated any less than the people of Kennisis Lake when we took that (winter maintenance) in-house or anybody else in the municipality,” Kennedy said.