STOW: Communities along the Summit-Portage County border are pinching pennies by working out ways to share costly big equipment.
Service departments routinely need expensive devices for road and tree repair and sewer cleaning, but the machines also sit idle much of the time. That’s where leaders like Stow Mayor Sara Drew, Stow Service Director Mike Miller and Kent Service Director Gene Roberts see opportunities.
Roberts is preparing a list of equipment held by Stow, Kent, Ravenna, Ravenna Township, Streetsboro, Twinsburg, Aurora, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Mantua and Shalersville Township. Details will include how much equipment might be available, how to acquire it and the hourly rate a community must pay to borrow it.
Sometimes the exchange will be for a routine repair; sometimes it will be for emergencies, like a storm sweeping through the area.
“Determining this when it’s not an emergency is always a lot easier,” Roberts said.
Some of the information will be online in the form of a wiki and might someday be available on smart phones.
Roberts anticipates the document will change through time.
“If it’s not an ongoing, living process, then we will never squeeze the last penny out of the process,” he said.
Meanwhile Drew and Miller are working on the legal agreements needed for the exchange.
“The DuraPatch is a good example of formalizing agreements,” the mayor said of a $61,000 machine that fixes roads.
“It’s not something that every city has to have. Some cities don’t have one. For instance, the city of Kent doesn’t have one. And it’s only something you use intermittently, so why would they go out and buy one when we can work out an agreement that they can borrow ours?”
Miller is working out an agreement that will stipulate an hourly rate for the machine, a minimum time per use and what will be done if the machine breaks while borrowed.
State Auditor Dave Yost’s office contributed a sample agreement from Lake County to serve as a model.
The deal is attractive because Stow would recoup some of the cost of a machine it does not use all the time and Kent would not have to buy the big machinery at all.
Other machinery on the wish list prepares road berms, sucks leaves out of sewers and helps with tree care.
Drew said Streetsboro Mayor Glenn M. Broska got the ball rolling with a meeting about a year ago. In time, she sees the practice spreading throughout eastern Summit and western Portage counties.
Drew said she already is saving money on personnel costs by sharing tree experts with Ravenna.
“We are sending our staff over to Ravenna for a certain number of hours per month in blocks of time to do assessments, like the emerald ash borer — things that cities are contending with,” she said. “Rather than the city of Ravenna hiring somebody, they contacted us.”
Stow employees won’t be taking down trees, just providing advice on time they are not needed in Stow, the mayor said.
More deals like that will occur in the future, Drew said.
“I would say that is exactly the direction that communities are moving in,” she said.
Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or email@example.com. Follow Scott on Twitter@Davescottofakro.