Some of East Peoria’s snow plows certainly look like the stress they’ve been through. Plows and frames of many trucks are battered, panels cracked, and truck beds littered with rust or not working at all.
East Peoria Foreman John Harris tells WMBD recently a truck was so damaged that the bed almost fell off the truck. “When the driver lifted the bed, the bed tried to fall off to the side,” said Harris.
“We’re about safety,” added Harris. “Public safety is our priority, we need the equipment to be able to do it and unfortunately our equipment is wore out.”
Some trucks are so aged and exhausted, there’s a revolving door of trucks being repaired. Trucks consistently being repaired means that’s one less truck on the road to plow during storms.
“We were on a schedule to buy a new truck every year,” said Harris. “Rotating them out, that way the oldest truck in your fleet would be 8 to 9 years old.”
WMBD asked commissioners why trucks weren’t being rotated out, leaders responded saying budget issues make it hard to buy new equipment.
“Streets need a million and half dollars a year,” said Commissioner Tim Jeffers. “We’re only budgeted half a million this year so it puts us a million behind.”
Leaders say they don’t want to raise taxes, so its forced them to prioritize.
“The biggest challenge we as a council and future councils will deal with is setting priorities” said Jeffers. “We have short term needs we have long terms.”
Jeffers said the commission is exploring the option of buying new fleet and sharing it between departments. The commissioner said this could mean a truck would be used to plow in the winter and other departments in the spring and summer.