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County Board approves 2020 heavy equipment purchases

Although the $434,000 in heavy equipment purchases for the Mower County Public Works Department were already included in the 2020 budget, the County Board got another look at them Tuesday before issuing final approval.

County policies state any expenditure above $25,000 must go before commissioners for approval.

In this case, there were five.

County Administrator Trish Harren said this gives the Board flexibility to change plans if it can no longer afford items added to the budget.

The first was $260,000 for two tandem truck chassis. Because of the time it takes for these trucks to be made, the vehicles will not be completed until 2021, when the county is budgeting to put the boxes on them.

A third truck, budgeted for in 2019, which will be purchased as one whole piece, was supposed to be delivered this year, but increased demand delayed the county’s order.

“The basic reason is that Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) ordered so many,” said Commissioner Polly Glynn.

That truck will also be delivered in 2021. If the other two would not be ordered this year they would not be ready until 2022, Commissioner Jeff Baldus said.

The county will also be purchasing a new trailer for $19,000, which Glynn said should serve the county’s needs better than other ones the county is getting rid of.

A pickup truck, $40,000, and a skidsteer, $58,000, are being added to the county’s fleet of vehicles.

The new truck will be used by the employee who puts on the most miles, and when it gets to about 40,000 miles, it will be transferred to another employee and so on, Glynn said.

Finally, the county will purchase portable hoists for the shop for $40,000. The county’s main hoist system is 50 years old and is currently being repaired. The county will purchase the unit, which has been rented at a rate of $3,000 a month and has been used since October.

Glynn said staff would look at using the hoists in addition to the in-ground system if it is repaired.

The $40,000 would not include the reimbursement of $2,000 of the monthly rent from the company.

The county questioned whether this would be a better way to do things than purchasing a new in-ground system, which would cost between $150,000 and $200,000, Harren said. The current in-ground hoist is 50 years old.

Glynn said it is also unknown how much work would go into replacing the in-ground hoists.

“It could be very costly,” she said.

The external hoists have a lifespan of 15 to 25 years.

The expenditures were approved 4-0. Board member Jerry Reinartz was absent.