In the market for a real fixer-upper? Sykesville has a truck deal for you.
The town will entertain any reasonable offer for its 10-ton rusty yellow dump truck and is optimistically searching for a buyer. The multipurpose vehicle has outlived its usefulness and the town can ill afford its four-digit repair bill.
"The State Highway Administration says 100,000 miles is the normal life of a truck," said Bill Oler, town building inspector and a former SHA employee.
With an odometer reading 130,000, this truck is beyond normal. The town has marked the vehicle down to rock bottom, although no official is saying how low the price will go.
A dump truck, with its best and most productive work 16 years behind it, will be a hard sell.
"Somebody might want something off of it," Mr. Oler said.
The truck failed miserably on its safety inspection. Its body and frame are rusting, the brake line is breaking and if the creaking cab bolts tear any further, a driver could end up out on the street.
Still, for the town, hope springs eternal.
"We'll put it out for bids and see who is interested," Mr. Oler said. "We are hoping."
Town crews at the maintenance shed are short one snow plow vehicle. They remember fondly how well the old yellow truck hauled stone, sand and salt, and how it plowed through the deepest snow and slickest ice. Now, two other municipal vehicles will have to work overtime and do the work of three on Sykesville's two miles of roads.
"We will have to get along without," Mr. Oler said. "We have no choice."
In the event of blizzard, the town has contracted a backup driver whose truck is equipped with a plow and salt sprayer.
"He will only be called in as needed," said Mayor Jonathan S. Herman. "If we can handle the snow alone, we won't call him in."
Mr. Herman said subcontracting may be the solution.
"Why bother with high maintenance and investment in machinery, when you can hire by the hour as needed?" he asked. "Why should we have trucks sitting around and waiting to plow?"
Until late last week, it mattered little how many trucks the town had idling. The backhoe, used to load salt and sand into truck beds, also was broken.
But after $500 in fine tuning, the backhoe is back in business.
With any luck, another truck also may be on the way, Mr. Oler said. It won't be a 1995 model, which would cost about $65,000, he said. He hopes to strike a deal for a second-hand 10-ton truck with the $30,000 budgeted for vehicle replacement.
"There are a lot of good used trucks out there," he said.
He has two possibilities and plans to spend the weekend truck shopping. "Weekend work, but what can you do?" he said.
Mr. Oler knows he will have to drive a hard bargain. Maybe he could use the old rusty yellow truck as a trade. He hopes to have figures ready for Town Council approval at its Jan. 23 meeting.