FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen unanimously requested more information Tuesday before deciding on how to replace a town loader that has broken down.

The transmission in the 1989 Caterpillar loader is no longer functional, Greg Soule, shop manager of the Public Works Department, told the board.

Estimates received for fixing the aging-but-needed machine near $20,000, he said.

The vehicle has high usage from loading sand and removing snow, Soule said.

“I don’t feel it’s in the town’s best interest to put money into this old machine only to have something else go down on it,” he said.

He suggested using the amount estimated for repair of the transmission as a down payment on another loader, one with a potential price tag of $110,000 to $170,000, he said.

Selectmen wanted to see specific bids for replacement vehicles and options for paying for it before making a decision.

The loader with 19,276 hours of running time, the equivalent of 700,000 miles, was supposed to be replaced next year, Soule said.

“We need a machine to do the work this one does,” Soule added. To go without a second loader would “cripple an already overburdened department.”

Selectmen asked about the department’s equipment replacement plan and how a new loader would be funded.

There is a plan in place, but it took a hit when a plow truck burned in 2012, Public Works Director Denis Castonguay said. Then some equipment broke down and more money was needed.

The equipment reserve account has been depleted, Town Manager Richard Davis said. The town may have to borrow the funding with deferred payments until next year.

Voters put $85,000 in to the reserve equipment account of the department’s yearly budget, Davis said. Perhaps over $100,000 should go in, he said.

Some members voiced concerns about borrowing funds to purchase equipment.

“This loader has outlived itself,” Selectman Stephan Bunker said.  “I can’t see putting more in to a piece of equipment that old.”

He wanted Castonguay to provide some hard quotes and Davis to bring back payment options. 

The board agreed.

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