County, cities worry about delays for equipment delivery, hiring

TROY — Paul Huelskamp admittedly likes to see everything in order. But with supply-chain issues challenging businesses and government agencies among others, the Miami County engineer is somewhat uneasy about coming months.

He talked with the county commissioners last week about supply-chain and employee-hiring challenges he is seeing.

The topic came up as Huelskamp presented the commissioners with the required listing of cost estimates for equipment he would expect to purchase next year.

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“I have no confidence we will be able to get any of this next year,” he said. The equipment on the list is part of the department turnover schedule and includes a Gradall excavator, a Cat roller, two one-ton pickup trucks and special wearing apparel with a total preliminary cost estimate of $635,000.

Some equipment suppliers are not taking orders, working instead to fill backlogs, while others have canceled orders including one this year for the two pickup trucks.

Huelskamp also said he had heard earlier in the day that diesel suppliers were reporting difficulties in getting fuel. All of the department’s larger pieces of equipment run on diesel fuel.

The department also has three full-time positions it is looking to fill, with all three positions part of the road cleaning crews.

“There is nothing out there. We can’t get people,” Huelskamp said. “It is going to be a struggle to get through.”

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The good news is the county has a full road salt barn and existing equipment “is in pretty good shape,” he said.

Miami County also is experiencing delays or shortened shipment quantities for items such as custodial cleaning supplies, said Chris Johnson, director of operation and facilities. Particularly impacted now are some toilet paper products.

“Office copier paper is now being forecasted to run short in the weeks ahead. That is a big concern considering how much paper the building departments use. We normally order two skids at a time, and this past order one skid was placed on backorder,” Johnson said.

Sanitizing units for HVAC systems also are expected to take three to four months to ship, he said.

“The same issues are impacting general HVAC system parts — we get some immediately, but others are on backorder,” Johnson said.

In Troy, the city council earlier this month agreed to the purchase of utility meters of a lower-level model to ensure there is enough inventory for change-outs and new home construction, said Patrick Titterington, Troy service and safety director.

Traffic signal projects at Kings Chapel and West Main Street and the West Main interconnect locations in Troy have been delayed, with mast arms and stop light infrastructure on backorder. The city also ordered a backup generator for Hobart Arena. The generator is backordered six months.

In Tipp City, the electric department is trying to anticipate when development projects will start so it can order materials in advance, said City Manager Tim Eggleston. The fire department is waiting for an ambulance to be delivered. While the city emergency services chief received his chase vehicle, the equipment to outfit it is not available.

“You may win in one aspect, but lose in another. My fear might be getting salt for the roads,” Eggleston said. “We have enough to get started, but refilling the salt building might be an issue due to the driver shortage” this winter.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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