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Ryno favors looking into mowing contract
• Council OKs $147,885 grass mower
Toro Groundsmaster
A Toro Groundsmaster mower like this one will be added to the city's fleet to replace a mower that burned up.

The Ceres City Council voted 4-1 last week to the purchase of a $147,885 lawnmower to mow city parks with Councilwoman Linda Ryno voting no, saying it’s time for the city to look into contracting out the service.

The council approves buying a Toro Groundsmaster mower from Turf Star Western, with the Public Works Department saying “it is imperative” that two working lawn mowers be available to keep all 13 parks of 80 acres mowed in the warmer seasons.

Ryno felt the city should explore a contract before buying the second mower, which will replace one that burned up in a fire in July. She assumed a lot of hours would be freed up so workers could tend to other needs of parks. Prior to 2017 the city had used professional lawn maintenance services to mow all of the parks but the city took over the lawn mowing and maintenance activities due to budget constraints in August 2017.

“Do we know if it would be more economically feasible for the city to hire someone to mow all of the park grass and free up staff to have them work in the parks?” queried Ryno. “I don’t know what the cost would be. I’m kind of having a hard time. I’m not saying we don’t need another lawnmower but that would be if we’re keeping it within our staff.”

Interim Public Works Director Sam Royal buying a used mower, while cheaper, was impractical given how “parts for older mowers have taken up to two months for delivery.”

The city expects to use $83,943 of the $106,620 sitting in the Fleet Replacement account coupled with $63,943 paid out by the insurance company.

Mayor Javier Lopez favored the Toro purchase, commenting that “by not buying this particular lawnmower we’re going to set back.” He said citizens want maintained parks and even for the city to finish Guillermo Ochoa Park with grass installation.

Councilman Mike Kline believed that in the prior mowing contract called for the city to provide the mower.

After the council voted 4-1 to buy the mower, it remained unclear if the city will investigate a contract.

In June 2013 the Courier reported that the council approved a contract with Valley Scapes to mow and edge the parks for a cost of $3,378 per week or $135,120 annually. At the time, city officials said the city would save $10,000 savings in city staff time costs but also increase efficiencies by decreasing wear and tear on city equipment and increase staffing flexibility.