The St. Germain town board, at its monthly meeting, approved the purchase of a new truck for the town’s public works department.
The approval for the purchase came on a 3-2 vote.
The town’s public works committee had received three bids, one from Bob Fish, a GMC truck dealer in West Bend, for a GMC Sierra that came in at nearly $53,650 and wasn’t considered.
Discussion came down to the other two bids, one from the Ewald Automotive Group in Oconomowoc and the other from Minocqua’s Dave Marston Motors.
The Marston bid on a 2015 Ford F350 Super Duty was $50,525.
Ewald’s bid was for a 2014 Ford F350 Super Duty at $49,531, just over $1,000 less than Marston’s bid.
The committee’s recommendation, based on information that Ewald had the truck in stock and would have it ready for delivery sometime between mid-April and May 1, was to go with the Ewald bid.
The town’s public works foreman, Tim Ebert, had originally submitted a request to purchase the truck in the previous budget cycle.
The truck would take the place of a 2000 Chevrolet 3500 1-ton pickup, which would remain at the St. Germain Golf Course.
The truck had been purchased from the town of Plum Lake and refurbished last winter “in house” by public works employees after it was transferred from the golf course to the public works department.
Town Chairman Walt Camp, also the chairman of the public works committee, said the intent was to have the 2000 Chevrolet be the golf course truck after the new truck was purchased.
An older third truck, described by Ebert as not repairable with its frame rusting and dump bed not working, is currently designated as the golf course truck.
“This plan has been in place for over a year,” Camp wrote in an email to The Lakeland Times after the meeting. “The public works committee did not recommend replacement of the truck last year due to the budget [and] knowing that we would have $18,000 available in the equipment fund to use in 2014.”
At the meeting, Camp explained Dave Marston Motors would not be able to get a 2015 F350 Super Duty pickup until June at the earliest.
The Ewald Automotive Group, on the other hand, indicated it also wouldn’t have the same 2015 truck until June with delivery in July.
However, Ewald did have 2014 F350 Super Duty, the same trucks as the 2015s, in stock and could have one delivered in approximately six weeks.
“So, the committee’s recommendation is that we go with Ewald Automotive Group and the 2014 F350 pickup,” Camp said.
Included with the truck’s price is a stainless steel pickup box and a snow plow.
It would also be orange, he said, to match the color of the town’s other vehicles.
Camp made the motion to purchase the truck from the Ewald Automotive Group. His motion was seconded by supervisor Marv Anderson.
Camp said as far as financing the truck, leasing was looked at briefly and was not recommended.
He said he contacted First National Bank in Eagle River and was told there was an interest rate of 3 percent for municipalities.
“That would be our recommendation,” Camp said. “Keep it local and use a local bank.”
The town has $8,400 in its 2014 budget for new equipment and Camp pointed out there wouldn’t be any payment made until May when the new truck was delivered.
That works out to $700 a month for 12 months but Camp said it might be a little more because of anticipated price increases through Ford.
Town Supervisor Marv Anderson said the town not having to pay anything for the truck until that time would save roughly $4,000 for the year.
Supervisor Tom Christensen asked how long the truck would be financed and was told five years.
“A $50,000 truck ... that’s $10,000 a year, plus interest,” he said.
“At 3 percent?” Anderson asked.
“I don’t care what the percentage is,” Christensen said. “$50,000 divided by 5. That’s $10,000. You don’t have that much in your budget now. And it’s going to be more when you tack on the interest. The money’s not in the budget for it. At least, not enough.”
“It’s in the budget this year,” Camp said. “We’d have to adjust the budget for next year. We wouldn’t be able to keep it at $8,400 but that’s because there was a price increase ... on Dec. 21. Had we done it before then, we would have been fine. But there was a significant increase in municipal prices.”
Christensen asked about changes between the 2014 F350 Super Duty and the 2015 model and was told by Ebert that he had been assured there really weren’t any changes.
“There are no grille changes or anything like that,” he said. “The ‘14s and ‘15s are the same truck.”
An article in the September 2013 Car and Driver magazine about the 2015 F series Super Duty trucks supports Ebert’s statement by saying the 2015 Ford F250 and F350 Super Duty will be the same truck as far as far as the exterior, chassis and other components.
“Why is it so important that we can’t wait for a 2015?” Christensen asked.
“Because the golf course needs the vehicle [the 2000 Chevrolet 1-ton] in March,” Camp said. “They need it because they’re building tees out there and they have to haul their own fill and stuff.”
He added the truck at the golf course now, the one with the rotting frame, has a lift that doesn’t work.
One other reason Camp said was the new truck could be used in the spring to help in the filling of potholes instead of using the town’s larger trucks, which are higher off the ground.
The thinking there, he said, would be to keep the number of workman compensation claims low since employees wouldn’t have to reach as high.
“We try to look at all the different factors,” Camp said. “We debated all this at the committee level.”
Christensen then asked if the new plow for the 2000 Chevrolet purchased last year was the same as what would be on the new truck.
Receiving a “yes” answer he then wanted to know if a new plow on the new truck would be needed.
Camp said the plow purchased last year for around $5,800 and on the 2000 Chevrolet 1-ton truck would stay with it and the golf course would plow their own area and the town wouldn’t need to do that.
After a few minutes, Christensen mentioned the work done on the 2000 Chevrolet 1-ton by town personnel after it had been swapped out and the golf course received the older truck with a non-functioning lift.
“Is the golf course going to reimburse the town for those expenses [repairs on the 2000]?” he asked.
That question caught the ear of Supervisor Bill Bates, also on the golf course committee.
“The one the town took away for a year?” he asked Christensen. “And gave them [the golf course staff] a thing that didn’t work?”
“OK,” Christensen said. “The question is still there: is the golf course going to reimburse the town for the price of the plow? The repair work? The truck is coming back [to the golf course] in far better condition than it left in. I’m just asking.”
“I know,” Bates said. “Is the golf course going to charge the town for lack of a truck for a year?”
Supervisor Alan Albee said it seemed to him the new truck, even though it was nicer and more powerful, was being purchased in order for the golf course to get a better truck in the 2000 Chevrolet after its repairs.
He noted the golf course needs aren’t as great as the town’s.
“Personally, I’m against purchasing this vehicle,” he said. “I would rather look at finding something that would meet the needs of the golf course at a lower expense regardless of what our budget says.”
Albee said the town has purchased a lot of new equipment recently since he’d been there.
“I think we really need to be careful of how much we purchase and be really sure we need it and ‘make it hurt’ a little bit before we buy all new stuff,” he said.
Christensen again mentioned the work the town did on the 2000 Chevrolet and Ebert pointed out the age of the vehicle and said brake lines had blown as well as brake cylinders.
When Christensen mentioned the $10,000 spent to repair that truck, Ebert told him they had no choice.
Camp indicated the greater need of the town was looked at when the truck swap took place.
While it would be used at the golf course, both Camp and Ebert indicated the 2000 Chevrolet would get much less use and would last longer, though Ebert issued a caution as to the age of the vehicle.
“When the golf course needed it, it went back over and they used it,” Camp said.
Camp then called the question and conducted the vote with a roll call.
Christensen and Albee voted against the purchase.
Brian Jopek may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.