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Town may add new vacuum truck to fleet

The Southold Town Board needs more information before deciding whether to apply for a grant to purchase a new vacuum truck for the highway department.

At a work session Tuesday, town engineer Michael Collins said the town could seek a water quality improvement grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to pay for a new truck, which could cost up to $450,000.

Currently, the department has two aging vacuum trucks that are frequently in for repairs.

“It works hard,” said Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando, describing the older vehicle. “It sits on a site revving four or five thousand rpm for hours; it wears and tears on it.”

The grant would require that the town fund 25% of the total cost, Mr. Collins said.

Supervisor Scott Russell said that in addition to responding to flood sites, he’d like to see a portion of the department committed to using the truck for drain maintenance.

“I don’t want to buy expensive equipment, even if the state’s paying for 75% of it, if we’re not going to go out and use it for its intended use,” he said.

Several years ago, the department employed well over 40 people. Now, it is has 35 employees.

“I could definitely use two more people that would be dedicated to that truck every day,” Mr. Orlando said.

Mr. Russell encouraged board members to review the request from a global perspective.

“New York State is not paying 75% of the salaries and benefits,” he said. “Grants are very attractive to go after, but sometimes cost things outside of the original purchase price.”

With a July 26 grant application deadline, the board asked Mr. Orlando to return with more information, such as a maintenance plan, to back the request.