Sunnyside spends $200,000 on wrong street sweeper

Sunnyside spends $200,000 on wrong street sweeper »Play Video
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- It's a case of buyer's remorse that you paid for; the city of Sunnyside spent $200,000 on a street sweeper that barely works on its roads. And, the city can't return it.

"Because we have to push it so far down into the chip sealed surface, you can see the wear and tear on it," said Sunnyside Public Works Superintendent Shane Fisher.

It's not what city leaders had in mind when signing off on the street sweeper.

"When we signed the purchase agreement, we agreed that yes this is the spec...that yes, this is the machine that we want per those specifications," said Fisher. "And once it got here we realized it wasn't."

You could say it's hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars swept in the trash.

That's because this new street sweeper won't work for Sunnyside's, coarse chip sealed roads.

The city never tested the machine ahead of time. It's now been in the city almost six months and can't be returned.

Fisher said the brooms on the old street sweeper could be controlled by the driver.

It's a key feature the city expected to come with the new truck but did not.

"Generally [the brushes] don't get worn out so fast," said Fisher.

However, one of the street sweeper's broom is only two weeks old and already worn out. KIMA is told the cost of those brushes alone range from $200 to $500.

The city says it tried everything to make the new machine work, but with no luck.

It's a big mistake that comes just as crews prepare for over six miles of street repairs this summer.

This sweeper needed to clean the roads beforehand; a job that can't be done by the old sweeper.

"The chip seal program we had for this year will be delayed until next year," said Sunnyside Interim City Manager Frank Sweet. "It won't be a significant problem we just like to have things scheduled out and so this does affect the schedule."

Now, all summer roadwork will be pushed back until next summer.

Sunnyside said it's talking to nearby cities hoping to sell the machine and get back most of the money that for now has been swept away.

Kennewick is among the cities interested in the machine, said Sweet.

City leaders say next time there will be more oversight and that the next machine will be tested prior to purchase.

Sunnyside plans to buy a new street sweeper this Winter.