Editorial: Laketran, Painesville Township applauded for cost-saving efforts

The News-Herald | Saturday, December 2, 2017

It’s good to see government agencies, departments and offices come up with innovative ideas to stretch taxpayer dollars as far as possible.

That’s why we were pleased to read about two separate initiatives undertaken recently by Laketran and the Painesville Township Fire Department.

At Laketran, an idea that will save money and potentially produce revenue arose after the transit agency began having difficulty finding vendors to perform alignments on its 35-foot transit buses and 40-foot commuter coaches.

“Our local vendor here in Lake County told us they did not want to continue to perform the service,” said Keith Bare, Laketran’s director of maintenance, on Nov. 27 during a presentation to the Laketran Board of Trustees. “We’re currently driving our buses to the west side of Cleveland, but the travel time is cost-prohibitive.”

As Bare considered alternatives, he came up with an idea that led back to Laketran’s own maintenance garage.

He suggested Laketran bring alignment service in-house with potential to sell the services through governmental agency contracts.

“We believe there are other governmental agencies, like the county or local school districts, that may be having the same difficulties,” said Laketran General Manager Ben Capelle. “Once our maintenance department is trained and we have a general idea of how much time the alignment will take, we plan to offer alignment services to governmental agencies within Lake County.

“The alignment machine will pay for itself in just four years, but selling alignment service to other government agencies that operate heavy-duty vehicles could at some point generate revenue for the agency,” he added.

Laketran’s board approved the purchase of the American-made Hunter Engineering three-axle alignment machine from New York-based, Mohawk Resources, Ltd., at a state contract price of $43,510.75.

New technology from Hunter Engineering provides three-axle wheel alignments with software that supports specialized truck, trailer and bus alignments to meet the needs of Laketran’s diversified bus fleet, and ability to service other customized government vehicles, the release stated.

So with a state-of-the art alignment machine and a staff of highly skilled mechanics, Laketran has positioned itself to not only save on maintenance expenses for its own bus fleet, but also to work with other governmental agencies who need similar work done on their buses or trucks.

The concept of regionalism — government entities from different nearby communities sharing services, personnel or programs to save money for all parties involved — has become quite popular in recent years. So give Laketran credit for seeing how doing alignment services in-house was a smart idea.

Meanwhile, the Painesville Township Fire Department recently came up with and carried out a cost-saving proposal of its own that deserves some extra attention.

The department recently welcomed two new emergency vehicles to its Station No. 3.
The rescue squad, which was recently placed in service, is a unique blend of a new engine and the “box” of the old unit.

Painesville Township Fire Chief Frank Huffman said the former 2006 Ford 6-Liter Diesel Squad had multiple engine problems and became costly to repair.

“It was basically a remodel,” Huffman said. “We bought a brand new chassis (2017 V10 gasoline) and put the old box on the new frame. We did it all under $50,000.”

Firefighter Shawn Forster, who served as the lead mechanic, said it was truly team effort.

“The whole department really helped out on this,” he said.

The firefighters did all the labor in about six weeks, which was a major cost savings.

The price for a new Squad is estimated to be $205,000, but the department was able to complete the entire job for just around $40,000, saving the township and residents over $160,000, according to the Painesville Township Fire Department’s Facebook post.

Talk about some impressive cost savings.

We commend the Painesville Township Fire Department for displaying its resourcefulness, mechanical expertise and ambition in completing this project.

It’s always a challenge for government entities to find ways to reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of services provided to the residents they serve. But Laketran and the Painesville Township Fire Department showed how it can be done, with projects such as ones highlighted above.