CAPE CARTERET — Cape Carteret commissioners voted 5-0 Monday night to buy a “knuckle boom” truck to pick up residents’ roadside vegetation and perform other tasks for the public works department.
The action came during the board’s monthly meeting, conducted on GoToMeeting, and made a reality out of a longtime goal of several board members.
“When I first got on this board, this was my No. 1 goal,” said Commissioner Steve Martin, who thanked Town Manager Zach Steffey for coming up with the funds through two federal grants and a town fund balance contribution.
The truck, he said, will make many residents happy. One of those was Paxon Holz, who during the public comment period of the meeting urged the board to buy the truck.
The total cost is about $166,500, with $98,574 from leftover Federal Emergency Management Agency hurricane damage reimbursement funds and $49,551 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The town’s contribution from the undesignated fund balance will be $16,551.
The town has had a residential leaf and limb pickup program for many years, and Commissioner Jim Nalitz said he supported the purchase.
“It will be enthusiastically received” by residents and property owners, he said.
This year, because of budget issues, the town reduced to two pickups from as many as four in some years, and residents have clamored for more. The town budget, mostly generated from property taxes, pays for the program.
Cape Carteret had been using an F-450 pickup truck for the work, but Mr. Steffey said Monday Emerald Isle has helped the town by using its own knuckle boom truck in Cape Carteret, although that isn’t a viable option going forward.
With more residents staying home because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, there’s been more yard work, and people have been storing the vegetation or burning it, which Mr. Steffey said isn’t good, especially with a virus that affects the respiratory system still spreading and a town full of many retirees and elderly residents.
In response to questions from commissioners, Mr. Steffey said he was working with a property owner in the adjacent town of Bogue to secure a site to haul the vegetation the town picks up. It’s less than a half mile from Cape Carteret, he said, closer than Carteret County-operated disposal sites, so that should save employee driving time and gas money.
Mr. Steffey said the vehicle can be operated by one person, but all three public works department employees will be trained to drive and operate the boom.
It will be up to the board to determine how many pickups per year the town will provide, but the vehicle can also be used to clean drainage ditches and cut down trees and haul away the debris.
Commissioner Jeff Waters praised the purchase.
“This will be great for our community,” he said. “I’m happy to see it.”
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.