By Tammy Gray –
Holbrook City Council members approved a one-year contract Tuesday evening with a company that will provide office, safety and other supplies through a vending machine system.
City Manager Ray Alley explained that the system could help prevent waste and pilferage of city supplies, since items could easily be tracked. He noted, however, that the down side of the program is that the company is not local and there is no guarantee it would save money.
“I think we could save some money in the long run, but I could go either way on this,” he said. “There could possibly be some benefits.”
Alley noted that the benefits of a vending machine would be inventory control, time savings for employees and paying only for items actually used; but the cons are not purchasing items locally and the yearly fee for the vending machine.
The vending machines will be stocked with office and safety supplies, as well as some small tools, such as toilet paper, disposable gloves, cleaners, drill bits, safety glasses and vests, dust masks, earplugs, electrical tape and batteries. Items will be dispensed in small quantities, such as three pairs of disposable gloves in a package. Each employee will be given his or her own code to enter into the machine to obtain items, and the machine will automatically track use and inventory. Fastenal will re-stock the machine each week.
According to Alley, in addition to better inventory control, the system would reduce the amount of time needed to monitor supply levels, price check, and order or pick up items. He noted that the contract would not make Fastenal a sole source provider, and he would still be free to order supplies from other vendors if necessary.
Council members discussed the pros and cons of the vending machines at length.
Mayor Jeff Hill and Councilman Wade Carlisle recused themselves from the discussion and vote, with Alley noting that they are co-owners of Walt’s Hardware, and the city currently purchases some supplies from a subsidiary of Walt’s Hardware.
Councilman Richard Peterson told Alley that he liked the idea of inventory control, but was concerned about pricing.
“How do their prices compare to what we’re doing now?” he asked.
Alley noted that the company’s prices for supplies are similar to what the city is currently paying.
“Some are lower, some are higher, but they are pretty much the same,” he said.
Councilman Myron Maxwell noted that he also liked the idea of better inventory control, but had concerns about locking into a contract for the vending machine and did not like the idea of switching to a non-local vendor.
Councilman Phil Cobb said that he felt the biggest savings would be in staff time since there would be no need to track and order supplies.
“It sounds like time is going to be one of the biggest savings,” he said.
Councilman Bobby Tyler noted that similar vending machines are in place at the Cholla Power Plant where he is employed. He told the council that in his experience, machines cut down on wasted supplies. He explained, for example, that if employees can go grab a handful of safety glasses without any accountability, they are unlikely to be worried about losing them, but if they know they will be held accountable for the number of safety glasses used during a certain period, they are likely to take better care of them and not lose them.
“It does cut down on waste if people are held accountable,” he said.
Alley noted that he believed the same. He told the council that currently an employee needing disposable gloves can take an entire box, and if that box gets lost in a truck, they simply get another one. Dispensing the gloves in packs of three would help cut down on loss and waste, according to Alley.
Tyler told the other council members that he believed it was worthwhile to try the machines for one year and then determine whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
Council members approved a one-year contract, at a cost of $360, in a 4-1 vote. Maxwell cast the lone vote against entering into the contract, and Carlisle and Hill did not vote.
In other action on Tuesday, July 10, the council:
* Declared Adamson Emergency Products as a sole source provider for equipment for four new police patrol cars.
Police Chief Mark Jackson told the council that in the past, installation of equipment was outsourced, but he will be installing it himself in order to save money. He noted that there are a number of parts required and they must all be compatible, and it would be difficult to go out to competitive bid.
* Heard a report from Alley noting that the new city well received an approval of construction and can now be turned on; state and federal grant funding has been approved for a new beacon at the airport, at a total cost of around $100,000, with the city to pay four percent; and that pavement projects using millings are nearly complete, with Blue Sage paved and the remainder of the millings to be used on the road to Petroglyph Park.
The next city council meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24, at city hall. The council will also hold a special budget meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31, at city hall.