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Bucket truck order mired in confusion

Staff writer

Although city administrator Brogan Jones told Marion City Council members Monday that a lease on a city-owned bucket truck had expired, and a new truck needed to be ordered, the lease actually will expire in a year.

A 60-month lease on the truck was signed Sept. 9, 2019. The lease will expires in October, 2024.

Jones first contended that the original lease had expired and that the city had signed a new lease for a shorter duration. He then retracted that statement.

“I was told we had fulfilled our lease,” Jones said.

Someone with Altec told him, he said.

“If we reach October 2024, we’re going to have to talk to Altec to see what we have to do to extend or keep going there,” he said.

He at one point contended that the rent cutoff date, for payment of the full $93,600 owed, was Oct. 1, 2023.

The lease agreement indicates a monthly payment $1,560. Going by that payment, the city has paid $74,880.

Still, Jones contended that ordering a new truck would save rent on a current truck.

“If we had a new truck right now, we would no longer have to pay,” Jones said, although he later conceded that the city would not fulfill its full rental agreement obligation until 2024.

He nonetheless persisted in arguing for a new truck.

“So the advantage to buying one now is that we would pay less additional rent on this one,” he said.

Jones said it would take a year to a year and a half to get a new truck if the city ordered it now, and he was trying to shorten the time the city pays rent on the present truck after the lease expires and before a new truck comes in.

“We’re at least a year to a year and a half out,” he said. “ We’re going to go over the cost of what this truck would be if we purchased. That’s why we are pushing to do this.”

The truck Jones urged council members to buy costs nearly a quarter of a million dollars. It has a bucket that reaches five feet higher than the one he wants to replace.

It is equipped with radio, air conditioning, a diesel Ford F550 engine, cruise control, keyless entry, and power locks and windows.

He could not provide a specific bid for the proposed new truck. A bid he asked council members to sign off on expired over the summer. The price of a new one could fluctuate by as much as $8,000, he said.

In encouraging council members to order a truck now, Jones said the council could vote to buy one and send it back later, which would cost the city nothing because the company could sell it to some other buyer the same day.

“I’d rather see that in writing,” council member Zach Collett said.

Councilwoman Ruth Herbel moved to postpone discussion until after winners of next month’s election had been seated, but she and councilman Jerry Kline were outvoted 3-2 by Kevin Burkholder, Collett, and Mayor David Mayfield.

Council members then voted 4-1, with Herbel opposed, to put the city’s name on a waiting list for the bucket truck proposed by Jones and ask for a current price.

“We have plenty of time to get a bucket truck,” Herbel said.

Last modified Oct. 19, 2023

 

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