Marion trash collection trouble continues

Feb 8, 2019

MARION — Continued mechanical problems with Marion’s trash truck leave selectmen in a tough spot as they consider how to fix the collection issues. Many of the approval processes require Town Meeting approval, but with the Town Meeting date set for May 13, Selectmen must figure out what to do in the interim. 

At a Feb. 8 meeting, Selectman Randy Parker said that after the truck had tires replaced, however it is still not working correctly despite that fix. 

“They didn’t fix the right problems,” said fellow selectman John Waterman, to diagnose.

Parker  said that the mechanic he spoke with recommended a procedure that would basically rebuild the engine. The mechanic estimated that the cost for that fix at $50,000.

The high cost made Waterman wonder if they could make it through the summer on the current truck.

Town Administrator Paul Dawson explained that the backup truck would not be a trustworthy candidate because “we bought the red truck three years ago as a backup to get us through the year.

The backup truck that the town owns is also a diesel engine with 15,000 hours on the engine. The truck should also ideally be run for much longer periods, not used for stop and go driving.

Because the primary truck has numerous mechanical issues, Waterman said,“I have no confidence in this truck even as a backup, and if we go high-tech this is a mismatch.”

The Selectmen had previously discussed buying a newer truck with more advanced technology that would require fewer workers to operate.

The Selectmen said they should be able to get an estimate or invoice today for the work on the truck that day.

Waterman raised the question of whether there was a used truck that the town could purchase to solve truck issues, however even purchasing a used truck would have to go through Town Meeting.

To rent a truck would cost $1,250 per day, but the Selectmen speculated that they might be able to negotiate a lower rate if they know that they plan to lease a truck longer-term.

However Selectmen cannot sign a lease without an appropriation from the town to fund that lease. This led the Selectmen to consider a Special Town Meeting to either get an appropriation or get approval to outsource trash collection, another possibility they raised at Tuesday’s meeting.