Cotter, Clark provided ample justification for $2M equipment ask (September 9, 2021)

BULLHEAD CITY — The Bullhead City Council needed little persuasion to authorize the purchase of more than $2 million worth of heavy equipment to be used by the city’s new utilities department.

But for good measure, both City Manager Toby Cotter and Utilities Director Mark Clark provided justification for the city buying an assortment of dump trucks, skid steers, excavators, front-loaders, and other machinery that will be utilized by the water and wastewater divisions.

Clark said the equipment will be used at various steps of sewer and water line repairs and replacements.

He said the utilities division could not share equipment with the public works department because the utilities department is funded through an enterprise fund — basically, money from customers for water and sewer service.

Grants and other funding sources can be used, but the public works department is a separate entity from the utilities division.

Our group has to be self-sufficient, he said.

He said the equipment will allow city employees to perform nearly every task involved with digging up and repairing broken lines in both the water and wastewater systems and also repairing the street damage caused by the breakage and repair work.

He said EPCOR Water Arizona used private sub-contractors for several portions of that process, meaning that repair work was sometimes delayed or prolonged because of the availability of contracted crews.

We will do a much better job than our former water company, Cotter said.

The city already had planned for the large purchase.

The bond funding of $90 million acquired by the city included $80 million that went to EPCOR for possession of the local water distribution system and an additional $10 million, some of which had been set aside for needed equipment.

Clark said EPCOR had some equipment but much of it was not in good condition.

The council voted 7-0 to authorize the purchases with vendors participating in a state-sponsored cooperative program.

The council also approved a pair of purchases specifically for the wastewater department, a $241,000 rotary drum screen and control cabinet for one wastewater treatment plant and a $67,000 pump for another.

Both were critical purchases for the wastewater system, Clark said.

The specific items were purchased to match or replace existing components.

The rotary drum screen, which separates large items such as trash and debris from sewage sludge at the beginning of the process, replaces an existing screen and was part of the 2021-22 budget.

The pump provides the city with a backup should the existing pump fail or need servicing.

We should always have backups, Mayor Tom Brady said.

We need to be prudent in our backup equipment, Cotter responded.

Earlier, Cotter addressed a few lingering questions concerning the city’s takeover of the EPCOR water system.

We will never look back, he said during his city manager’s report.

He said customers receiving bills from EPCOR should pay them to EPCOR, not the city.

That final bill that’s on EPCOR letterhead needs to be paid to EPCOR, he said.

He said that city water workers have begun the meter-reading process as customers will be switched over to city billing.

When those bills come from the city, residents will pay them to the city at City Hall or by other means, such as electronic, online or phone payments or by mail.

Cotter also said there will be a joint workshop at 3 p.m. Sept. 21 involving the City Council and the Parks and Recreation Commission to discuss water safety issues.

At the workshop, commissioners, councilors and the public will have a chance to discuss possible changes in local ordinances, enforcement or other measures to improve safety on the Colorado River.

The heaviest part of the local boating/water recreation session ended with the Labor Day weekend but, he said, the 2022 season will be arriving soon.

If we want to make changes, we have to start now, he said.

Source: Mohave Daily News