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Planning Board OKs School Bus Facility

Group provides courtesy review, recommends next steps to be taken for governing body.

The agreed upon shared service that would allow the Washington Township School district to put a bus maintenance facility on the land currently housing the received a positive review from the planning board this week.

The board gave a courtesy review of the site plan at its most recent meeting, with school transportation director Paul Henry and DPW superintendent Scott Frech representing both sides.

The facility would allow the district to bring its bus maintenance, inspections and cleaning in-house, as it currently outsources those needs.

A four-bay, 5,000 square-foot structure has been proposed that would include three full-time mechanics, Frech said.

The facility is expected to cost approximately $750,000 to create, and would save the school district an estimated $115,000 per year.

“The cost is one-third of the original proposed facility,” said Mayor Ken Short, representing the planning board. “This will be a one-stop-shop for fuel, maintenance and cleaning. It’s going to save the taxpayers quite a bit of money.”

The township will erect the building, and the board of education will hold a long-term lease on the property.

As many as eight buses could be at the facility at one time, Henry said, during state inspection cycles. But most of the time only buses needing maintenance or repairs will be on the property, Henry said.

The board asked if the facility would allow for buses from surrounding districts to come in and use the services provided.

Henry said the board has considered that idea, which would help bring in revenue and get maximum value from the facility, but has yet to pursue the effort.

Buses will still be kept in the bus yard at the Board of Education building on West Mill Road.

The board moved to make a positive recommendation to the township committee, which will take the next step in bringing the project to completion.

WTF March 14, 2012 at 04:22 PM
So the pay back time on the building is 6.5 years. We have to hire 3 new mechanics. I am assuming that the 3 new mechanics will need a supervisor. Since the state is involved with the bus inpaections we will need an administrator to keep track of the paperwork. In total 5 new employees. Please tell us taxpayers what we pay for this service now and what it is going to cost us with the new facility, new employees including all expenses for the building (heat, electricity, phones etc) employee salary, benefits, training, certifications, equipment to outfit the building (lifts, tire mounting/demounting, etc, speciality tools etc. Is this really a savings to me, the taxpayer???
Joanne March 14, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I too am thinking of the additonal salaries that this will bring........and how often our busses have to be sent out in the first place?? I am all for the safety of the students, but this seems a bit out there to me. How many current mechanics do we currently have on site??
Wtf2 March 14, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Zero, all the work on the busses ,including 6 month inspections are done at an outside company
Joanne March 15, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Wtf2~I meant how many mechanics work for the DPW now....(not the three new mechanics they will add )
Angelo March 15, 2012 at 02:47 AM
re: "The facility is expected to cost approximately $750,000 to create, and would save the school district an estimated $115,000 per year." I hope Jason can expand upon this article because I'm left with the impression that what has been presented are the INITIAL cost but not all the ONGOING costs. There would be new salaries, health benefits, pension benefits. New maintenance equipment to buy, maintain, replace. Certifications for mechanics to work on school buses? New insurance requirements should there be an accident due to a maintenance problem? Costs for all the infrastructure stuff to run the building? Is there a CBA for the ENTIRE project not just the erection of the building?
Tracy Tobin March 15, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Joanne The DPW mechanics work on Police, Fire, First Aid, Road, Recreation and Administration vehicles. They will not be working on Board of Education buses. New hires for the buses will be Board of education employees.
Joanne March 15, 2012 at 05:36 AM
Tracy~ so they will get paid from the schools budget then?? I also thought with the enrollment coming down, there should also be fewer busses then, and there also could be a bigger problem where the busses might have to be sent out anyway... Are there other towns in our vicinity that has taken on this project, or is WT the guinea pig for this experiment?
Claire March 15, 2012 at 10:57 AM
How do get this bus facility idea stopped????
FTW March 15, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Tracy, Joanne's question was how many mechanics work for the DPW now
Robert & Linda Cline March 15, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Unfortunately, we can't stop it! They want it and they will get it! Remember when we voted the school budget down a few years ago and then they presented us with a bus garage costing over a millon dollars! And that wasn't including employing people to work there. I am all for shared services, but someone wants a dynasty at the tax payers expense!
Tracy Tobin March 15, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Joanne & FTW DPW has four mechanics right now and will not be adding anyone. Sorry I misunderstood your question, but it was phrased "how many mechanics work for DPW now (not the three new mechanics they will add)". The three new mechanics for school bus maintenance will be hired, employed by, managed and paid by the k-8 Board of Education Administration not DPW. Hope this clears up any confusion.
Frank Corwin March 16, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Mr. Tobin I do not think we are as confused as you are trying to make us understand. There seems to be some missing parts such as stated. How many years will payback be when you add in salaries, pensions, ongoing building maintenance, heating, air-conditioning, electric and so on. I think taxpayers will never see a savings. A cost of $750,000. is a manipulated and full of hidden costs.
MTSO March 16, 2012 at 08:14 AM
Why don't we build our own 911 center with a radio tower? We can provide the 911 services for other towns too and make extra money to lower our taxes. Oh yeah, that already failed. Stop this Bus Facility, the taxpayers don't want it.
Tracy Tobin March 16, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Mr. Corwin My reference to confusion was in regard to who was hiring and paying mechanics, Town-DPW or K-8 School District. I was not commenting on what was or was not involved in the Board of Education's cost and savings estimates re the Bus Garage.
Angelo March 19, 2012 at 02:04 PM
The Board of Education will have the approval of the Bus Maintenance Facility on its agenda for its March 27th meeting. Location: Long Valley Middle School at 7:30 p.m.
Just Sayin' March 27, 2012 at 03:40 PM
David - That would make sense, but I still don't understand why get into the bus maintence business in the first place?! They should still do what you suggested then they would save money because they are REDUCING spending. Spending money for future "savings" is not guaranteed "savings". If you sell a building I GUARANTEE they will save money:)
rose March 27, 2012 at 03:57 PM
That is exactly what I was thinking - the bus maintenance business, mechanic's salaries? is this part of what the edauction adminisitration should be focused on?
Claire March 27, 2012 at 10:21 PM
I do not agree busing should be outsourced. We have an unusual community landscape here with many dangerous curves and stops. I have to say although my kids are out of school, I think it's the safest route. It may be cheaper but in this case not best choice
Just Sayin' March 28, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Claire we aren't saying to outsource busing, just no to building a bus "maintenance" facility. But as I type this, I am sure this is all a moot point, as I am sure they unanimously passed the next step to breaking ground.
Claire March 28, 2012 at 10:19 AM
Leta, my comment was a reply to David J about outsourcing all busing. Maybe I misunderstood his point. I agree with outsourcing the bus maintenance.

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