Endorsing staff recommendations, the River Forest village trustees unanimously authorized spending over $500,000 to purchase new vehicles for the fire department and the public works department at their Feb. 13 meeting.

The majority of the expense is for the purchase for the public works department of two tandem-axle dump trucks, the bodies and chassis for which are being purchased from separate vendors.

The dump truck purchase is divided between $218,708 for two Freightliner dump truck bodies from Monroe Truck Equipment of Joliet and $232,920 for two Freightliner dump truck chassis from TransChicago Truck Group of Elmhurst for a total of $451,628.

The fire department will purchase a 2023 Dodge Durango from Thomas Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep of Highland, Indiana, for $50,373.81. Of the total cost, $40,082 is for the vehicle and $10,291.81 is for an emergency visual and audible package and its installation.

In a memo to Matt Walsh, acting village administrator, Public Works Director Jeff Loster said the new dump trucks will replace two International dump trucks that are at or beyond their useful life, adding ongoing maintenance costs dictate that they be replaced. One was purchased in 2012 and the other was purchased in 1998 but refurbished in 2012 instead of being replaced.

Loster told officials at the Feb. 13 meeting that both vehicles are “an integral part of our fleet,” used for snow removal and salt application during winter months and various tasks throughout the rest of the year.

Due to inflation and general supply-chain issues, the cost for these vehicles continues to increase, Loster said in the memo. These same issues also have created a significant delay between purchase approval and vehicle delivery, a timeframe likely to be 12 to 18 months or more. As such, he said staff members are seeking approval to initiate the purchase process for these vehicles with the intention of receiving them during the 2023-24 fiscal year.

Loster acknowledged that the contracts were not competitively bid nor were they selected as part of a separate joint bid. Throughout the past year, staff members have continued to reach out to known vendors seeking vehicle availability, including those from the commonly utilized Suburban Purchasing Cooperative (SPC), he explained. Unfortunately, the SPC and other contacted vendors are no longer waitlisting names due to vehicle shortages, he said.

In recommending the purchases, Loster said Monroe and TransChicago were the only vendors accepting purchase agreements at this time. In addition, they have supplied chassis and dump truck bodies to the village in recent years as low-bidders and staff members have been satisfied with the equipment supplied in the past as well as the established working relationships with them.

In a memo to village President Cathy Adduci, Fire Chief Thomas Gaertner said the Durango will replace a 2011 Ford Escape used as the fire marshal’s car. He said that the Escape was scheduled for a six-year useful use and is now approaching 12 years.

Once the Durango is received, which Gaertner said is expected to be by the end of April, the Escape will replace a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe that is used for fire inspections and hydrant flushing among other duties. The Tahoe will then be sold as surplus.

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