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At the Escondido City Council meeting on May 11, councilman Ed Gallo was incredulous when staff members from the finance department asked for $264,314 to replace 12 trucks.

“[T]here’s only three vehicles with over a 100,000 miles, and all the rest have less than 100,000,” said Gallo. “In fact, a couple only have 55,000 and 68,000. My question is, in these financially hard times, why are we replacing these vehicles now? Couldn’t they be made functional at least for another year?”

Gallo questioned the necessity of a public works collection truck that was 23 years old and had only 55,000 miles on it. “In 23 years, that’s, what…less than 3000 miles a year? Why do we even need the vehicle?”

Jerry Van Leeuwen, director of community services, deferred the question to a staff member. “I’m sorry, I don’t have information on this 1988 truck with the Department of Public Works Division,” the staff member said. He added that he believed it was used on a standby basis and required special equipment.

Mayor Sam Abed agreed with Gallo. “These are not normal days,” said Abed. “These are tough economic times. Being in the business trade for years, I know that the maintenance becomes an issue; and the cost issue versus buying a new one...but not at the 55,000 miles, not at the 68,000, not even at the 100,000 miles... We have maintained cars on a reasonable amount of money at...125,000 [in mileage].”

Councilmembers sent the proposal back to the finance department for better options and clarification as to the evaluation process.

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