WINDHAM — Some town residents will see snow today and dream of ski trails or warm beaches.
But Selectman Roger Hohenberger, judging by his enthusiasm expressed at last week’s town deliberative session, will meditate upon the deal that is the town’s salt trucks.
“They are really cool looking,” Hohenberger told voters.
But it’s not just that they look cool.
Hohenberger delights in the cool cash savings to the town in building the fleet.
He related how officials used to go to Concord to buy surplus used state Department of Transportation trucks.
But that was before the Interstate 93 widening.
As part of the highway project’s environmental approvals, state transportation officials had to agree to contain road salt use.
A program of federal grants administered by the state enabled Windham, because it is in the I-93 corridor, to purchase brand-new trucks, specially equipped to regulate the distribution of salt on roads.
Highway agent Jack McCartney said yesterday the town already has purchased two new trucks with grants.
The first two cost a combined $315,000. But the town’s share was just $63,000.
“We are going out to bid for the third one now,” he said.
Hohenberger was urging voters to approve at Town Meeting in March a warrant article providing a fourth truck.
The question asks voters to approve $180,000 for a five-ton truck.
It’s contingent on the town getting a state grant that would pick up $144,000. The town share would be $36,000.
“Should this article be approved, but state reimbursement not occur, this article will be considered null and void,” the warrant article reads.
McCartney confirmed Hohenberger’s account of those trucks bought at auction.
He said the town would typically buy a truck for $4,500 to $6,000 that had been on the road for 10 years or more.
It wasn’t just that they were old and had a lot of miles.
“They weren’t fully equipped,” McCartney said.
Taxpayers would pay $20,000 to $40,000 for equipment and repairs to make them road worthy, he said.
Other towns have used the program to purchase trucks.
The state Department of Transportation said Derry has bought five trucks, Londonderry four and Salem two.
Purchases have totaled about $2.15 million, with the towns bearing 20 percent of the cost.
McCartney agrees with Hohenberger that the grant program has been good for Windham and its taxpayers, providing new trucks with seven-year warrantees.
He said because of the technology with the new trucks, which are equipped with sensors regulating how much salt is used, the town also sees a savings on its salt budget.
“There’s been a significant reduction in salt,” he said.
Hohenberger encouraged voters to check out those trucks.
Today, they will get a chance to do so.
Maybe they will remember his words and think about the program that’s keeping their roads well treated.
“It’s really impressive,” Hohenberger told the voters.