City of Shelton to farm out municipal vehicle work at set price

The city has reached an agreement with a few city service garages to do maintenance work on certain city vehicles at a fixed price. This includes an hourly rate for general work and specific rates for more routine maintenance jobs, such as oil changes and brake work.

The garages will be paid $60 a hour for the general work. Participating garages are C&C Family Automotive and Huntington Center Gulf, and to a certain extent, AJ’s Service Center. All are based in Shelton, which is one of the reasons they were selected.

The garages will do work on police patrol cars, municipal staff vehicles, and Fire Department light-duty support vehicles and administrative vehicles.

In fact, the first police cars are expected to be sent to two of the vendors as early as this week. The Police Department has about 44 vehicles, according to city Public Works Director Paul DiMauro, and patrol cars can require a lot of maintenance because of their intensive use.

Aldermen approve bid waiver

The Board of Aldermen approved a bid waiver after bids initially were received for the outside maintenance work. Separate bids went out for the fire vehicles, and for the police and municipal staff cars.

City officials then went back to five of the six garages that bid and asked if they would agree to do the work at a fixed price — and some said yes and some said no.

“It was a matter of what garages wanted the work,” said DiMauro, noting that what price was needed by each garage to make a profit was one of the factors considered by garage owners.

The one garage that bid but was not approached to possibly participate is located in Ansonia.

It was determined that getting garages to agree to a set pricing schedule would make more sense than giving all the work to one garage. This would mean multiple garages would be available to work on municipal vehicles — and gain experience and familiarity with those vehicles in the process.

“It’s good to have more than one garage doing the work,” DiMauro said.

City mechanics

The approach also is viewed as a way to free up the time of public works mechanics to work more on public works vehicles and trucks, where contracting the work out can be much more expensive than comparable work on less complicated city vehicles.

“This will help relieve our garage [operation], which is overtaxed with the growth of the vehicle fleet,” DiMauro said.

In the past, city public works mechanics have done most maintenance work on city vehicles such as police patrol cars.

Mayor Mark Lauretti said he supports the new approach. “We can farm some out and get efficiencies of scale, and our mechanics can focus on heavy machinery,” Lauretti said.

The Public Works Department has been purchasing more vehicles and related equipment in recent years so it can try to do more infrastructure work in-house, such as road rebuilding and paving.