Benton trustees want to buy $412K vac sewer cleaner

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — The sewers of Benton Township will be less of a burden after its board’s latest decision Tuesday night.

Trustees approved the purchase of a new jet vacuum sewer cleaner for nearly $412,000 from Jack Doheny – a Northville-based company that specializes in vacuum trucks and sewer cleaning equipment.

Public Works Supervisor Andy Jordan said the truck the township uses to clean sewers now requires extensive repairs.

“It still will clean the sewer lines, but the actual vacuum part is going to need some major work,” Jordan said. “The truck we have now was a lease and bought used. So, it already had some time on it. That’s why we’re looking for a new one.”

The vacuum truck is used to remove sewer plugs. When maintenance workers are able to bust something loose in the sewer lines, the vacuum portion of the truck is used to remove the excess waste.

By doing so, the sewer plug does not go on to plug any other portion of the sewer line.

Jordan told trustees the newer model has a better engine for the job.

“The old truck has two engines,” Jordan said. “One for the chassis part and one for the back. The new trucks don’t have that. They do one engine for everything. There are a lot less moving parts and is less complicated.”

The township currently uses a 2002 model vac sewer cleaner. Jordan said they plan to sell the current vac truck instead of trading it in.

He said the township will try selling the old vac truck through a municipal online auction service.

Comptroller Kelli Nelson said the township anticipated the need to replace the truck and budgeted for it.

The township’s sewer fund will be able to cover the purchase of the vac truck. Nelson said they don’t recommend borrowing money to pay for the truck.

“When the five-year rate proposal was submitted to the board, it was planned that we would set aside funds to purchase the vac truck,” Nelson said. “We’re not earning very much on our cash that’s in the bank, so we would be paying more in interest expense than we would be earning. We recommend making a cash purchase for the truck.”

There were no other bids for a vac truck, as the township has a municipal contract that forgoes the bidding process.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Aug. 17, 2016)

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