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Houston County Courier - Local News

Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company

City equipment old, worn out
Houston County Courier

By Lynda Jones

The Crockett City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, July 29, for a second budget workshop. The council met with department heads in a special called meeting Wednesday, July 24, but were not able to hear from all department heads in the time allotted. In his introductory remarks, Mayor Wayne Mask said, "I've been here 14 years as a mayor and frankly things haven't changed much in the way of finances over that period of time. We may grow a little bit, make a little bit more in the city and we spend about what we make every year. It takes just about every bit we have to maintain the quality of services for our residents," Mask said. "We do have some special circumstance this year," the mayor said. "We're in the process . . . of negotiating a new contract with the Houston County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1." Mask explained the long term contract has ended and the water district has asked the city to increase its daily minimum from 1 million gallons per day to 1.5 million gallons per day, which translates to a substantial increase in what the city pays for water, a cost passed on to its residents. The council members then heard from the heads of three departments, the maintenance shop, solid waste and recycling and public works. The message from these departments was clear, equipment is old, broken down and needs to be replaced. Mike Hardy said that at the maintenance shop, the temperature in the shop recently registered 115 degrees with the doors open and the existing fans turned on. He is asking for a water cooled fan that could be rolled around to the areas where employees are working. He also discussed an environmental air machine that works, but the calibration is off and the city is required by law to have the machine. Ray Fleming spoke for the Solid Waste & Recycling Center. The top priority is the purchase of a new front end loader. Fleming said this piece of equipment is vital for the department's day to day operations. The current front end loader owned by the city is a 1991 John Deere purchased by the city in 1994 for $39,000, Fleming said. He went on to explain that in the past 24 months, maintenance and repairs on the front end loader has cost the city $8,700. Since 1994 when the city bought the front end loader, maintenance and repairs has cost the city $90,000, Fleming explained, almost triple what they paid for it. The second most important item the Solid Waste and Recycling Department needs, Fleming reported, is a new recycle truck. The recycle truck is the one with the cage used to pick up recyclable materials eight hours a day, every day. The department is requesting a new Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD. The city purchased the current truck in 2000 for $29,000, "brand new". Fleming reported the city has spent $43,000 in maintenance and repairs since purchasing the truck. He said the city has spent $7,800 in repairs since Jan. 1. He clarified that this expense is primarily for parts and that most work has been done at the city shop. The first priority for the Public Works Department, Nate Rich said, is another sewer machine. The current one was purchased in 2001 and is used daily, after hours and on weekends. "It's a major part of the sewer collection system," he said. The city currently does not have a back-up machine, he added, so when the one they use breaks, they have to pay expensive rates to have parts shipped overnight. He explained they recently paid about $100 to have a new starter shipped overnight. The Public Works Department also is asking for another tractor. One tractor being used was purchased in 1987 and consumes two-three gallons of hydraulic fuel every time it is used. Rich explained it is hard to find parts for the tractor, and that a rear brake seal would have to be totally torn apart to repair, and hydraulic lines need replacing. Rich also reported a recently purchased Kubota Zero Turn mower is working "great" and recommends getting another one to replace a Craftsman Zero Turn that is starting to use a lot of oil. The Craftsman is not really a commercial mower, Rich explained, as he said he does not know how much longer it will last. Rich also mentioned a new back hoe the council budgeted for last year but was never purchased. The council approved $40,000 last year for a back hoe. Mask said the council will not have to rebudget for this item if they can get one in that price range. Meadows said he would like to buy all new equipment, but that he does not think it is realistic. He said he believes there is some used equipment available for sale that might be suitable for the city's needs. Police Chief David Cross and Fire Chief John Angerstein will present their departments' needs at the workshop Monday, July 29. Angerstein asked council members to look over the packets he provided with proposals and payment options for the fire department so they will be prepared with questions Monday night.


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