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Ogdensburg City Council members question need to outsource tree, car work

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OGDENSBURG — Resolutions approved by City Council this week hiring two Ogdensburg businesses for tree cutting and vehicle maintenance services prompted officials to question why the work can’t be done in-house instead of outsourcing the jobs.

The City Council voted Monday to hire H. Richardson & Sons LLC for tree-cutting services on outer Champlain Street to make way for millings and other debris related to reconstruction work on Paterson Street. The site also is being considered as a potential location for an array of solar panels to generate power for the municipality. All told, there are about six acres of trees to be cut and chipped.

The council also voted to hire Seaway Auto Tech, doing business as Rishe’s Auto Service, Ogdensburg, to provide light maintenance on city vehicles.

Councilmen Wayne L. Ashley and Michael D. Morley wondered why the city couldn’t take down the trees on Champlain Street using Department of Public Works crews. Mr. Morley pointed to a recent city purchase of a 55-foot bucket truck that could aid in such a project.

DPW Director Scott A. Thornhill said using city crews would actually take longer and cost taxpayers more in man hours than outsourcing the job. In addition, he said, Richardson & Sons, for the $9,600 cost of the contract, will remove the trees and grind them into wood chips on site. Mr. Thornhill said if city workers did the job they would first have to cut the trees on site, and then transport the logs to another location to be ground into chips.

“We have the manpower that is capable of doing this, but a firm like this can come in and clear it to the ground with no residual material left for us to handle,” Mr. Thornhill said. “It comes down to dollars and cents. For $9,600, with our equipment and manpower, we can’t touch the work that they can complete.”

In addition to the tree service work, Mr. Ashley asked the public works chief why a contract for vehicle maintenance was needed when the city already has mechanics on staff.

Mr. Thornhill told the council that the city mechanics on staff have expertise with heavy equipment such as loaders and dump trucks. He said the city’s fleet of smaller vehicles can be better maintained by outsourcing, especially given the high-tech nature of today’s cars and trucks.

“I don’t believe we have the computers or the software necessary to interface with the smaller vehicles,” Mr. Thornhill said.

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