Supervisors table new excavator
Two weeks ago, Jefferson County Board of Supervisors tabled a request so supervisors could do more research on prices to replace and/or repair a wheeled excavator for the county’s Secondary Roads Department.
Today, Supervisor Dick Reed said he agrees the department needs the equipment. He suggested tabling the request for six months and the other supervisors agreed.
“I’m not wanting to spend money this early in the budget year,” Reed said.
County engineer Scott Cline had proposed purchasing a new, wheeled excavator in fiscal year 2014 (which begins July 1).
Supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt asked if the 1996 John Deere wheeled excavator owned by the department could be rebuilt and be worth the investment.
“If we spend $30,000 on the one we already have, would it be a good piece of equipment?” Dimmitt said.
Cline said it would not be as efficient.
“I asked Chad to find replacement hydraulic pumps,” said Cline. “They are obsolete. John Deere can rebuild the pumps, but can’t swap them out. If the pumps were rebuilt, we’d still have to rebuild the hydraulic lines ourselves, Deere wouldn’t do those. Doing the work would probably cost more than the trade-in value.
“The John Deere is 17 years old and a somewhat inferior piece of equipment,” said Cline.
Reed said he was in favor of buying a new excavator.
“I’m just in favor of waiting,” he said. “We had to do a couple of budget amendments this past year. I know we authorized spending more money on rock for the Farm-to-Market roads we hadn’t done before.
“I’m not trying to micromanage you.”
The Secondary Roads Department also owns a Caterpillar tracked excavator. Cline said his operators test-drove wheeled John Deere and Caterpillar models and preferred the Caterpillar. Buying another Caterpillar will allow operators to switch between the machines with no problems and share attachments.
Cline said the price the Caterpillar representative gave him before the June 10 meeting would probably change if the county waited to order toward the end of the calendar year.
“If we ordered it now, it would be delivered mid-November, which is when payment would be due,” said Cline. “The price will increase if delivery is taken in 2014.”
Dimmitt said he understood what Reed was saying about budget and some road issues were out of the county’s control, but he didn’t know if the price for a new Caterpillar would increase in a new calendar year.
“I don’t want to throw $30,000 out the window, and I wouldn’t expect another 17 years out of the John Deere, but if we repaired it and got another five years, it could be worth it,” said Dimmitt. “I don’t want to put anyone in jeopardy.”
Cline replied it would be hard to say how much time repairs might buy.
“I’m not even sure we could rebuild it,” said Cline.
Audience member Jack Ritz said as someone who’s worked around large equipment a long time, he would also ask someone to remember that heavy equipment like excavators develop stress points in the materials.
“If you are thinking to rebuild the 17-year excavator I’d also have the metal stress-tested or examined,” he said.
Supervisors also tabled approving an annual pay increase for the emergency management coordinator.
In the past few supervisors meetings, the board has approved the fiscal year 2014 annual pay increases for various county departments. Today, only two individual employees were on the agenda.
Reed asked Dimmitt when the next emergency management meeting would be held. Dimmitt said it would be whenever he called one.
“I don’t know how I can approve a salary increase of someone I’m not sure is doing a good job,” said Reed. “I want to table this.”
Dimmitt and Becky Schmitz agreed.
The supervisors did approve a part-time home health aide’s salary for FY14 at $13.24 per hour.