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Easthampton City Council approves public works requests worth $307,900

— The City Council crossed more items off the city’s wish list last week when it funded $307,900 worth of purchases and repairs in the Department of Public Works.

Mayor Michael A. Tautznik has so far asked the council to approve $461,000 for projects from the capital plan that lays out purchases the city would like to make from 2010 to 2015. He plans to ask for roughly $350,000 more that will require short-term borrowing.

One of the most important capital items the council approved Wednesday was the purchase of a $70,000 flushing machine for the Sewer Department. It was presented as an “extremely high priority” because it is used to clear sewer blockages and has been malfunctioning, according to the funding request.

“No one wants effluent backed up in their basements,” Tautznik has said of the equipment.

Also approved was $65,000 to upgrade the electrical system of the Oliver Street pump station, including an electrical panel that DPW Director Joseph I. Pipczynski said is sinking into the swamp; $65,000 to replace a heavy-duty van the Water Department uses when responding to water main breaks and other incidents; $15,000 to replace the gravity thickener pump at the Wastewater Treatment Plant; and $26,000 to purchase a van to replace City Engineer James Gracia’s aging car.

The council OK’d $66,900 to repair two dump trucks so the city can avoid purchasing new ones. In his funding request, Pipczynski said replacing the dump and sander body of a 2003 dump truck that is in good condition otherwise can add another eight to 10 years to the truck’s life. Repairing the now rotted and unsafe frame of a 2000 dump truck will allow the city to use the truck for another five to seven years, he said.

“We can get more value by extending its life,” Tautznik said of the repair requests.

The purchases were paid for by a combination of free cash and funds from residents’ sewer and water fees.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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