Local Officials Discussing Possibility Of Sharing Some Public Works' Equipment
In response to a question from the attending public at Monday’s council meeting, City of Saugatuck officials say they have already been meeting with their counterparts in the City of Douglas to explore options of where the cities’ public works departments, as a cost-effective measure, could come together.
“I understand it’s a complicated matter,” local resident Daniel Fox said during his inquiry about the issue to Saugatuck City Council, adding the cities have different equipment for different needs.
While Douglas officials have talked about it in terms of a “consolidation,” Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier’s approach is one of “sharing,” not an outright consolidation.
He poses the question: “Are there things we could share that would provide efficiency and any economies of scale advantages?”
As a first step into a study, Harrier says he has created a spreadsheet identifying all the cities’ public works equipment from which items could be cross-referenced.
So, for example, he reasons that it would not make sense for the cities to share a snow plow truck because both cities need their own truck to plow their own roads at the time of a snowfall.
However, it would make sense to share a bucket truck, used to cut and trim trees and put banners up, because it is a piece of equipment that is not used as much, said Harrier.
Another possibility officials from both cities are studying is the sharing of a central fueling location that not only the public works departments could share, but could also be used to supply fuel to the police, fire and the interurban.
At present, the Saugatuck Public Works Department has a site with its own gas tanks it uses to fuel vehicles, a cheaper way to operate than going to commercial gas stations.
However, an in-house station for all those entities to share would entail a larger operation and be complicated.
“Where would that fueling station be located?” asked Harrier.
Last year, the electorate of Douglas and Saugatuck voted down a referendum to consolidate the two cities outright.
Some city officials from both cities expressed their opposition to consolidation, but said they would work hard to find ways to combine resources to decrease costs.