Casa Grande is buying a paving machine that will allow the Public Works Department to take on larger projects.
The $145,627 machine brought some questions from the City Council before approval was granted.
According to the staff report from Streets Supervisor Pedro Apodaca, the city’s current paver “is a small entry-level paver that was used to pave many of the city-owned parking lots in the past, but it is undersized and underpowered for our current needs. The replacement unit is a midsize paver that has the ability to do parking lots as well as larger street paving projects. It has a larger paving path, a self-feeding hopper and it is able to push a loaded truck for continuous paving operation, producing smoother finished pavement surfaces.”
The report continued, “Used in conjunction with our new milling machine, this paver will increase the division’s ability, efficiency and performance, allowing them to replace larger road sections with new asphalt.”
Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the council, “The paver that we’re going to be purchasing is a midsized paver and it will really allow staff to take advantage of doing some larger projects. In the past, we’ve done smaller projects, parking lots. We’ll be doing large projects in conjunction with the purchase of our asphalt zipper, which is our milling machine that we were currently doing projects with.”
Louis said the present paver, a 1998 model with 914 hours of use on it, will be traded in upon the new purchase.
The only topic that brought questions from officials was the 914-hours figure.
“It says 914 hours on it, on an 18-year-old machine,” Councilman Matt Herman said. “We’re using it about an hour a week, then?”
Louis responded that paving is not done every day.
“Our paving operations are very limited,” he continued, “and that piece of equipment gets used for about 10 minutes and then you wait for the truck to come. It’s a very slow operation. The hours are not tied to how many hours we actually had that piece of equipment on projects. It’s one of those pieces of equipment that sits around 90 percent of the time doing nothing until we actually need it.”
Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons asked, “But now this new equipment has the capability of doing other things, so you’ll probably use it a little more, is that correct?”
That is the plan, Louis said, adding that, “As long as we have funding to pay for the materials we’re definitely going to use it as much as we can.”
Councilman Karl Montoya asked if the department has a budget for materials for the paver.
“Yes,” Louis responded. “Each year, we program materials into our operation budget. I believe this year it’s $165,000 (that) was identified for maintenance materials. So that’s what is used to cover the cost of the asphalt to supply this piece of equipment.”
Herman asked, if the paver is used only for a small amount of time, would it be better to hire for projects.
“I mean, what justifies us owning this paver if we’re only using it 10 percent of the time?” he continued. “I understand how pavers work, you just use it for a little bit and you have to wait for it to fill up.”
It comes down to the size of the project and whether it makes financial sense to hire it out, Louis responded.
“We can typically do a small project for about $50,000,” he said. “If we were to contract that out, $50,000 probably wouldn’t even cover the cost of mobilizing a contractor to come out. So we use these pieces of equipment sparingly on smaller projects — alley paving, small sections of pavement, those types of things — not large projects. We still have our capital improvements projects budget that we use to do the larger projects and get that economy of scale.”