CALIFORNIA CITY — California City’s water department received approval for much-needed equipment after the city council approved two separate purchase requests on Jan. 26.

The purchase requests include two new trucks for water operations crew and 16 new sample stations to replace ones that Public Works Director Joe Barragan said were either failing or decades old.

Barragan said that the two trucks were items approved by a prior council last year and were budgeted  the current fiscal year. 

The trucks — two Ford F-350s with built-in service beds, were approved by the council in a 4-1 vote for just over $82,000 from Ford Auto Nation. Mayor Jeanie O’Laughlin was the lone dissenting voice.

According to Barragan, the trucks are seen as a must-need for his two water operators.

“We need things that make the job better, faster so we can cut down on overtime,” Barragan said. “We can actually make our employees feel a little bit better, that we’re not abusing them or taking advantage of them by not providing the stuff they need to do the job they need to get done.”

When asked why Barragan decided to go with F-350s instead of F-250s as had been originally requested in 2020, he said it was based on recommendations from a new water supervisor with more than 30 years experience.

“The previous water supervisor determined that the F-250 was what they wanted,” he said. “The employee that took this on, with 30 years experience, he said that we tow a lot of stuff and we need vehicles that we can rely on for towing. That’s why we went with the F-350.”

O’Laughlin objected over the purchase of new vehicles and argued the city should consider purchasing vehicles that year three years old.

“To me, spending $90,000 on two new vehicles is something that I personally can’t justify,” she said.

Barragan argued the city’s track record for buying used vehicles in the past have caused a lot of issues. Most of them in up the public works bone yard after a certain period.

“The last four F-450 trucks that were bought, that are service trucks with beds, look really nice but they all have serious engine problems,” he said. “We were down to one out of the four (trucks) and that one just went down last week as well.”


New water sampling stations

The council also approved 16 new Ferguson-K88 sampling stations for just over $15,000, a request that Barragan confirmed was not in this fiscal year’s budget.

Barragan argued that the city’s sampling stations recently returned “dirty samples” as a result of their age and deterioration.

“When you go look at the sample stations they’re very corroded, very dirty; they’re beat-up,” Barragan said. “Some of them are decades old, so it’s time to replace them.”

Barragan had originally requested a different model, but Councilman Jim Creighton had concerns that the model was both too expensive and was better suited to warm climates and wouldn’t last long during cold winters.

Dirty samples create more paperwork for his staff every time the city needs to submit reports to the state. Barragan said samples are taken weekly on a rotating basis for a total of between 17 and 25 a month.

Funding for the project comes from a project initially budgeted for this fiscal year but removed by the council at a prior budget meeting.

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