A different philosophy in municipal spending

The "Cos Cobber" model

The “Cos Cobber” model

Our Irish correspondent who so far as we know has never set foot in Cos Cob nonetheless found this article and sends it along: Bozrah (it’s a town in Connecticut, apparently)  buys surplus truck from state for $900 and converts it to snowplow. Total cost, $28,000 vs. $150,000 new.

The town owns and maintains four large dump trucks for plowing and hauling. The vehicles require commercial licenses to drive, and cost in the range of $150,000 to $160,000 to buy new, Ballinger said.

“The town has never bought one of these things new, nor do we have any plans to do so in the future,” he said.

Besides being cost prohibitive, their use is limited mostly to winter plowing and some material hauling in the summer.

“Even if we could afford to buy new ones, that would not make sense economically,” he said.

Last fall, the town bought a used truck from the state that was in very good mechanical condition for $900. But it needed work on the frame, and the dump body needed replacing.

The town is using the mechanical skill of its public works employees to get the work done during regular work hours. Once complete, the replacement truck should last close to 10 years, Ballinger said.

Even with the purchase of a new dump body for $22,266, the cost of putting the vehicle into service will be less than $28,000, which is in line with what the town has paid for used vehicles, Ballinger said.

The work should be complete in several weeks.

The trucks have a limited life span because they operate in a very corrosive environment during the winter, causing rust and corrosion on top of wear and tear from plowing.

The economy has forced the town to use ingenuity and its own time and skills to find a solution.

I’m guessing Greenwich doesn’t do this.


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13 responses to “A different philosophy in municipal spending

  1. dogwalker

    All it takes is an inventive person or two to save a whole lot of money. You know those signs that flash how fast you are driving? Well, a couple of years back Montpelier, Vermont, wanted to get a couple . . . until they priced them at 20 something thousand dollars each. A couple of town employees put one together for a couple of hundred dollars. And it was not some junky thing held together with duct tape. Looking at it, you would not be able to tell the difference from the one costing tens of thousands of dollars.

    Ya gotta wonder.

  2. Publius

    The notion of Yankee/New England thift seems just that these days, just an ideal. Every once in a while there are these random acts of common sense and thrift that jogs the memory of what people used to do in this country. Look what Vermonters did when the state was ravaged in 2011 by Irene, they just jumped on their heavy equipment and fixed the roads, no permits no environmental hearings no BS. Result? Outstanding (Section 4 http://vtstrong.vermont.gov/Portals/0/Documents/VTRecoveringStronger%20RptJune%202012.pdf)

    Bozrah is that other part of Connecticut that urbanites cannot locate on Google map. New England is now the land of liberals and it shows

  3. Real Torme

    Bozrah isn’t far from Moodus and Moosup. Kinda quiet there…

    • I just looked it up – quiet and cheap. 50 acres, with nice house and an even better barn, asking $649,000. If I could figure out how to sell dirt in Greenwich from Bozrah, I’d be gone.

  4. Cos Cobber

    Nice Publius, but VT still is a nightmare to work in with respect to environmental matters. Every dislocated spotted salamander and deer tick requires a study and some for or enviro compensation.

    • Publius


      I agree, it is a socialist state, but it is interesting to see what happens when the proletariat just do the politically incorrect thing and just get it done. Keep in mind those Vermonters with the heavy equipment are the true locals, who hunt, burn garbage on their property, throw pint cans of Natural Light out of the pick up trucks and smoke like chimneys. It is the transplants from Massachusetts, Connecicut and New York who claim to be repesentative of the masses in the state that weep when trees are cut down or some other never before seen endangered specie is threatened by ………. PROGESS!!!

      • Cos Cobber

        Publius, I grew up in this type of environment you are describing and still have family in it. All I can say is that the downstate people are winning in the long run…they have the money, they dominate the politics, they have the media and they have the lawyers.

  5. Anonymous

    i suppose its a good make work if your town employees have nothing better to do

    • No, that’s called work. “Make work” is what we specialize in here in Greenwich – five guys watching one wield a shovel, sleeping in secluded areas at the beach, etc. When I was a lad, town sanders and plows were driven by an employee while 16-year-olds like myself were hired at the princely sum of $6 an hour (3X minimum wage!) to work the back. That’s all done by unionized town employees now. Go figure.

      • Fred2

        The small town I grew up in was like that. They had 3 full time maintenance guys for the entire town. In winter they basically plowed the roads with old tractors, in summer they hired a herd of high school boys, and I’m told fired them if they didn’t work HARD, at whatever needed doing. (Cleaning ditches & drains, mowing, both with scythes and push mowers, tree cutting, plantings, painting….)
        It worked because EVERYTHING was outsourced, Fire Dept was volunteers – except for the fire chief and a secretary, garbage pickup – outside, anything bigger than a pothole they hired construction co. , so basically the 3 maintenance guys showed the students how to do it and then yelled at them till they got it right, for the contractors they basically did the same. It helped the chief maintenance guy had a 7th grade education (and read the manuals) and took no crap from anybody. (Violate the building code…BAD move. He wasn’t a jerk, but if you tried to pull one on him and he caught you, you were done. )
        Before my time the entire police force was 1 guy, The police “station” was his garage, the “drunk tank” a shed out back. I understand in 1950 there was a big event when he was upgraded to a car from a town provided bicycle. He was known for playing baseball & hockey with the kids in the parks – (he knew ALL the kids by name), which was good because he usually knew within a day who had done what and when. Kids observe and talk. The police guy walked a lot, sometimes with the postman, on his rounds.
        The town hall was the Mayor and 6 members, and 3 secretaries, the secretaries got paid. Everyone else was volunteering.

        It’s changed now. Not for the better.

      • Big Louie

        Yeah, even in the 60’s we had to pay snotty Greenwich kids 3 times the going rate just to get em off their candy ass’s. I see you turned out well….guffaw!

  6. weakleyhollow