TREASURE ISLAND – City officials have authorized city attorney Maura Kiefer to seek a negotiated settlement with Tampa Truck Center regarding a “lemon” garbage truck the city recently purchased.
Since Treasure Island took delivery on the American Lafrance 25-cubic-yard rear loader eight months ago, Public Works Director Jim Murphy said the truck has spent more time in the shop than in service.
“It’s had significant problems,” he said. “We returned the truck and the city has not had constructive use of the truck for most of the time that we’ve had it in possession.”
The city paid $260,000 for the truck through the Florida Sheriff’s Association’s cooperative bid system and has had continuous problems with the engine/transmission supervisory computer system that in some instances has resulted in the truck moving at a crawl speed.
On the most recent occasion in the shop on July 25, the truck shut down completely after its engine was reportedly repaired by Cummins Diesel.
While out of service, the city has been forced to lease a garbage truck for $6,500 per month.
“We’ve been more than patient, in my belief, with the Tampa Truck Center,” said Murphy. “We believe it’s time for the city to return the truck to the dealer and have our money returned, less reasonable wear. I’ve got serious concerns about taking this truck back without satisfying significant engine issues.”
Commissioner Phil Collins said he agreed with Murphy with the exception of one point.
“We have a truck we can’t use,” Collins said. “Forget the reasonable wear.”
Kiefer explained that Florida’s Lemon Law doesn’t apply in this situation because the truck is essentially a commercial vehicle but still addressed the issue in a recent letter to the CEOs of Cummins Diesel, American Lafrance and Tampa Truck Center.
“We got everyone’s attention,” Kiefer said. “We explained that it’s a lemon and we haven’t been able to drive it. The strange thing about this is we purchased this truck pursuant to the sheriff’s association contract, which has no contract language. All it does is set up discounts. So essentially, we don’t have a written contract with these people.”
In the letter, Kiefer asked Tampa Truck Center to keep the truck and give the city its money back, less reasonable use.
The letter resulted in a phone call from the general manager of Tampa Truck Center who said the truck is repaired.
“He said it was a wire harnessing,” said Kiefer.
“I want us to recoup our cost,” said Murphy. “If we take this truck back I want (a new) warranty to start right now. I have no problem asking these people to cover this for two years, maybe three years. We should specify that if this happens again, we would want returned our investment on this truck.”
Kiefer said an agreement with Tampa Truck Center would have to be specific in terminology.
“If we do take it back we need to have very specific terms and conditions that spell out their obligations, what the warranty is and reimburse the city for a lot of money, including staff time every time they went to pick it up, the inconvenience, the rental, those kinds of things,” Kiefer said.
However, Kiefer warned that her task would not be easy without a contract to work with.
“I’m going to have a tough time negotiating with them if I don’t have any authority,” she said. “The same with staff.”
In other action, the commission:
• Turned down a request by Taylor Beach Services to allow additional vehicles and flags on the beach in conjunction with Taylor’s beach concession business.
• Moved forward on a resolution to spend $65,610 to reline 72 sanitation manholes. Concrete Conservation Inc. will use the Spectra Shield system. The company has lined 201 manholes in Treasure Island in recent years.
• Moved ahead on an amendment to the city personnel manual to allow paying employees time-and-a-half for call back pay.
• Moved ahead on a resolution to purchase five Data Flow Systems telemetry control units and on-site training for $32,025. The TCUs will be used to replace pump module units that are used at nine of the city’s 11 wastewater lift stations.
• Moved forward on approval of the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative Interlocal agreement, which includes Gulf Beaches Public Library.