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Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Celina council OKs buying several vehicles

Mayor against buying pickup trucks for parks and recreation department

By William Kincaid
Celina City Council approved the purchase of multiple vehicles on Monday night, including two new pickup trucks for the parks and recreation department.
Although the emergency ordinances were unanimously passed, Mayor Sharon LaRue adamantly opposed the purchase of the two new pickup trucks for the parks department. The two new 1/2-ton GM pickup trucks will cost a total of $28,000.
Also being purchased are a new 11/2-ton Sterling dump truck from Kinstle Sterling/Western Truck Center of Wapakoneta for $78,241 for the public works department; a Gator utility vehicle for $8,600 for the parks department; and a new four-wheel drive 1/2-ton pickup truck for $17,000 to be used as a meter reading vehicle.
The trucks and utility vehicle will be purchased from Kerns in Celina, Safety Service Director Jeff Hazel said.
"What a buy," Councilman June Scott said about the two new pickup trucks for the parks department, each with a cost around $14,000.
But LaRue thought differently.
"I just want to go on record saying I'm a little uneasy with this," she said.
Council members have lectured other departments on cutting their budgets but are okay with purchasing two new trucks, LaRue said, pointing out it may send mixed messages to city employees.
Celina city officials are searching for ways to cut $500,000 from the proposed general fund budget in 2009.
Because of the uncertainty of the economy, most capitol investment projects - including vehicle purchases - may be cut in 2009.
Council members Angie King and Ed Jeffries defended the purchase, pointing out safety and liability issues with the trucks.
One of the current trucks has a missing floor board, a council member said. Hazel added that the two parks trucks have substantial safety and operational concerns and if they left city limits, they would probably be pulled over.
"They are definitely in need of replacement," Jeffries said.
LaRue said she understands the need but questioned why used vehicles were not sought instead of new.
"Initially, I thought exactly the same thing," Councilman Bill Sell said.
But his opinion changed when he saw the trucks' price tags, he said.
The price comparisons between old and new were so similar because the city received numerous discounts, Hazel said.
"If they're brand new trucks, it's going to be longevity," Scott said about the benefits of buying new vehicles at such a low price.
Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Fortkamp said since he has been with the department, he purchased one new truck in 1995.
Council members did not intend to make the vehicle purchases this year, Hazel told the newspaper. But because there was money remaining in the contingency fund and the city found phenomenal rebates and discounts, council members began considering the purchase a few weeks ago, Hazel said.
The city will pay a $21,740 down payment from the contingency fund to Sterling/Western Truck Center of Wapakoneta for the dump truck. The remaining $56,541 will be paid in the next four years with an interest rate not to exceed 7 percent.
The two GM pickup trucks and Gator utility vehicle will be paid with $36,600 from the city's contingency fund as well.
The new meter reading truck will be paid through $8,500 from the electric revenue fund, $4,250 from the water system fund and $4,250 from the wastewater system operating fund.
Meter reader trucks, according to the ordinance, are routinely replaced on a rotating five-year schedule to insure safe and dependable transportation through varying weather and road conditions for city personnel.
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