RICHMOND — When an aging car or truck stops working, the question becomes: repair it or replace it?

The stakes are higher when you’re a town government and the vehicle in need of repair or replacement is relied upon to keep the town’s roads clear of snow.

Neither replacing or repairing it is going to come cheap.

That’s the situation in Richmond, where town officials say a 2000 10-wheeler dump truck is in rough shape and in need of either repair or replacement. It’s one of three relied upon to keep the town’s roughly 50 miles of road clear of snow.

“They wear out. The salt wreaks havoc with them,” Clarence Cummins, chairman of the selectmen, said of plow trucks. “The choice is: Do we put a lot of money into repairing an old truck? The selectmen believe we’re better off with a new truck.”

Cummins said the 12-year-old truck needs extensive repairs, including body work, and it could cost more than $35,000 to fix it.

Buying a new truck, Cummins said, would cost about $170,000 if the town gets a trade allowance for the old truck.

Resident Richard Ashcroft thinks the town should fix the truck, and believes it can be fixed for $8,000 to $12,000 — well under the town’s $35,000 estimate.

“That sounds like quite a lot to me,” Ashcroft said.

“I’ve worked around heavy equipment for quite a while. The whole thing sounds trumped up. I don’t trade my truck in every time it gets turned down for an inspection sticker. If it’s reasonable, you fix it. I don’t see any reason that truck couldn’t be fixed.”

A public hearing to discuss what to do about the truck is planned for 6 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Town Office. A special town meeting has been set tentatively for Aug. 21 to vote on what to do about the broken-down truck.

Cummins said officials initially planned to hold the special town meeting earlier, but decided to have a public hearing first so people can have input on the issue before the vote.

Cummins said officials had hoped to use money from a tax increment financing, or TIF, account related to the Maritimes and Northeast natural gas compressor station in town, to buy the truck; but officials learned the state would not allow the TIF funds to be used for that purpose.

The truck is not, as some residents at first thought, the same truck voters at the annual Town Meeting rejected spending about $90,000 to replace. That truck is a lighter-duty truck, which the town has since had repaired to keep it going.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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