Though some people might object to throwing $184,486 into the trash, that’s exactly what the Pismo Beach City Council did during its Jan. 6 meeting.
Specifically, the council authorized the purchase of a 2015 Load and Pack 74 DLX from Dakota City, Nebraska-based manufacturer Broyhill Inc.
Broyhill is the sole manufacturer of this specific Load and Pack vehicle, a four-wheel-drive trash collector with a hydraulic grip that can drive on the beach, emptying cans between 26 and 90 gallons in size.
As City Engineer and Director of Public Works Ben Fine explained, city staffers are responsible for emptying receptacles on the pier and the beach a cumulative 8,768 times per year.
“Increased visitors have added increased trash,” Fine wrote in his staff report. “Five years ago, Public Works staff spent approximately two hours a weekend emptying trash cans. Today on a busy summer weekend, staff can spend a full eight hours a day emptying trash cans.”
Since the city’s current trash collector vehicle—a refurbished, older Broyhill model purchased in 2003—is inoperable due to a failed engine, workers have had to manually empty the trash cans for several years.
At the Jan. 6 meeting, Fine said that a full 55-gallon trash bag can weigh up to 65 pounds, and lifting many of these heavy bags at an awkward angle puts the city at significant risk for workplace injuries.
Fine said that the new Load and Pack machine would eliminate this risk, albeit at a hefty price: $170,820 for the vehicle and shipping to Pismo Beach, plus $13,666 in California use taxes.
“I think we ought to go into the Load and Pack business,” joked Councilwoman Sheila Blake. “It amazes me that it’s so much money, and it’s because [Broyhill] is the only game in town.”
Though Blake objected to the steep price, she said it was ultimately worth it to minimize the potential for injuries.
“I like the Load and Pack,” added Mayor Shelly Higginbotham. “I’ve been up close and personal with it, and I think it’s a great machine.”
The council ultimately voted 4-0 to approve the purchase, with Councilman Erik Howell absent.