BERLIN – Elected officials agreed this week to preorder a new trash truck in hopes that it will arrive by the end of the year.
The Berlin Town Council voted 4-0 on Monday to spend $416,000 on a new automated trash truck. The truck will replace one that was purchased in 2019 and is deteriorating.
“We just want to be proactive,” said Jimmy Charles, the town’s public works director.
Charles told the council this week he’d been talking about the possibility of ordering a new trash truck for six months or so. The town’s current truck was purchased in 2019 and is approaching the end of its useful life.
“As the projected lifespan of the truck was five years, its condition has continued to deteriorate,” Charles wrote in a report to the council. “The aging equipment and operational functions have hindered sanitation crews from operating to their fullest extent. Additionally, the older equipment has taken on a heavier load which has resulted in increased maintenance and repair costs to ensure the truck remains in working order. These expenses have continued to place a significant financial burden on the department.”
Charles said he’d met with a truck company in December and was recommending the town order a vehicle now.
“The lead time to get a new trash truck is 10 to 12 months,” Charles said.
Through Sourcewell, a cooperative purchasing program that manages competitive solicitations to meet local requirements, the town can purchase the vehicle for $416,000. By ordering now, the town could potentially have the vehicle by the end of the calendar year.
“We didn’t want to wait until July 1 to do this process, then we’d be pushing June or July of next year,” Charles said.
Mayor Zack Tyndall said the purchase would be a fiscal year 2025 item that would be included in upcoming budget presentations.
He said the new truck would be paid for with impact fees and some capital funding.
“It’ll be a combination of the two,” he said.
Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said the recent trash collection issues in Salisbury could serve as a cautionary tale for Berlin. Berlin sent a trash truck over to help the city with collection when supply chain issues delayed the arrival of Salisbury’s new trucks.
“I’m not criticizing Salisbury,” she said. “What happened could have happened to anyone. Wait time is what it is.”
Charles said he’d already been thinking about the need for a new truck, even before Salisbury’s recent troubles, after several maintenance issues last year.
“We could’ve easily been in the same situation,” he said.
He said the truck broke down in May of last year and needed work again in October.
The Town of Ocean City was able to help Berlin with trash collection during the October repair.
“We were lucky Ocean City helped us out,” he said.
Councilman Steve Green asked if the new truck would be any different than the current model.
Charles said the truck had the same design as the current vehicle but would have a GPS camera system. That is expected to eliminate questions about whether a home’s garbage can was at the curb or not.
“We’re also looking at some other ways of identifying each can throughout the town,” Charles said.