Buying road paint from the lowest bidder has cost the City of Saint John thousands of dollars in lost productivity and damaged equipment, according to a report submitted to city council.

The report from the city's traffic department is advising council to stick with a sole provider the city has had success with in the past, rather than put out a request for tenders for the 2016 construction season.

Over the last five traffic-painting seasons, the city purchased traffic paint from four different manufacturers.

Three of the four manufacturers ultimately did not meet the city's specifications, the report stated. Two of them provided paint that clumped during the painting season.

'the bigger issue was the impact on our equipment and the downtime the clogging of the paint was causing.' - Tim O'Reilly, Saint John traffic engineer

"We had some issues with how long the paint lasted on the road, but the bigger issue was the impact on our equipment and the downtime the clogging of the paint was causing," said Tim O'Reilly, the city's traffic engineer.

"In Saint John you only have so many days to paint. It was requiring additional overtime to get the entire program done in a year, and there was the cost on our equipment too — replacing filters prematurely, that type of problem."

The traffic department is recommending Franklin Paint Company be the sole provider of traffic paint this year. It's the same company that supplies road paint to Moncton and Fredericton.

Paint costs $30,000 more

It's estimated the city will have to pay $30,000 more for traffic paint than in previous years.

But the recent purchase of a new paint truck is expected to reduce the amount of paint needed on the roads, cutting that difference in half, said O'Reilly.

"It's absolutely worth it," O'Reilly said.

"Just a day's loss of productivity costs $1,400 to make up. A pump on a truck is $5,000 to replace, so it doesn't take long to make up that $15,000."

City staff hope to find more savings down the road.

It plans to work with Moncton and Fredericton on placing a single, larger order in 2017.

The City of Moncton has to finish its two-year contract with the supplier before a bulk buy can happen.