11-21 street machine-01

One of the many pieces of equipment the city purchased this year. The cost, officials said, will be abated by the savings generated by in-house labor.

The city of Palestine just spent more than half-million dollars with the expectation of saving future tax payer dollars.

The purchases were made for street repair and utility equipment in what city officials say will save tax-payers hundreds of thousands of dollars in the near future.

A Bomag RS360, used to grind up streets and mix with other materials to make a road base, joined the city's equipment fleet in September, along with a distribution trailer and asphalt layer.

Five new pieces of equipment were ordered for the utilities department. The equipment order included a track hoe to dig through to water pipes, and a trailer with which to tow it. A recently purchased Tiger mower with a 22-foot arm has also been at work, mowing the city's gullies and ditches.

City Manager Leslie Cloer told the Herald-Press Wednesday that much of the work on future projects that would have otherwise gone to outside contractors will now be able to be handled in-house.

“Anything requiring the tearing up of streets, or concrete can be done by our own workers on the Bomag,” she said. “We won't have to budget that cost into future projects.”

Finance Director Jim Mahoney said the potential savings could be substantial.

“I think it's fair to say the savings we'll see could easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars per-project,” he said.

Another benefit of self-sufficient streets and utilities departments, officials said, is the speed at which they can answer calls for service. What sometimes took weeks, or longer in the past, is typically now completed within 24-hours.

“We're able to answer resident calls, usually within a day,” Streets Director Mark Fletcher told the Herald-Press. “We got a call on Kolstad last week. A resident said he'd been complaining about his storm drain for over a year. We got a crew out there by the next morning.”

Utility Director Felipe Garcia, whose department is still due to receive a Kubota tractor, trailer, and brush-hog mower, said new equipment is only part of the story.

“We have leaders that listen to us now,” he said. “They've unfrozen positions, they listen to every employee's suggestions, and they've budgeted in paying our workers a market-wage. Everyone is happier, and that makes for better workers.”

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