The Vilas County board’s highway committee approved Tuesday a motion to purchase a new grader after the transmission in its 2006 CAT grader went out.
“It’s a piece of equipment that gets utilized quite often between snowfall, grading shoulders, grading roads, for forestry and everything,” Vilas County highway commissioner Nick Scholtes said.
According to Scholtes, from 2015 to 2019, the grader had “earned 108,417.70 in profit over expenses” and had earned more in revenue over expenses.
The committee considered options, including weighing the benefits and costs of purchasing a new grader versus repairing, as well as which attachments would be most beneficial to the county.
The cost to repair the transmission alone was $27,648.20, with reconditioning and painting bringing the cost up to $64,052.10.
Scholtes said he reached out to Vilas County finance manager Jason Hilger as to how the department should move forward.
“The recommendation that Jason had was that we could take and look at purchasing out of our cash account, because he feels that we are sitting financially stable as far as our cash,” he said.
Scholtes said Hilger asked if the department had considered looking into purchasing a used machine versus a newer one.
“The only issue I have with the used equipment was for the amount of work that this is going to take and get, are we inheriting someone else’s problem? Are we going to be replacing the transmission in one that we purchase that’s used?” Scholtes asked.
The committee compared the prices for a 2019 Caterpillar 12M3 AWD grader with wing for $291,285 with a seven-year warranty from Fabick CAT and a 2018 John Deere 772G 6WD with 2012 wing for $259,750 with a five-year warranty from McCoy Construction & Forestry.
The committee also saw prices for those machines with 4,000 and 2,500 hour respective warranties.
The recommendation from the highway department was going forward with purchasing the 2019 12M3 AWD with wing, front plow, and fender options for a cost of $224,535 after trade in.
“The warranty, in terms of what’s covered, they’re identical?” committee member Chuck Hayes asked.
“The years and the hours would be the difference there,” Scholtes said.
During the committee’s discussion, it came to the committee’s attention that the bids provided by McCoy were not comparable to the machine being replaced.
“I would like to point out that the 12M3 is a 672 John Deere sized grader, smaller than the one I priced and actually smaller than your 140H,” McCoy representative Ryan Castellion said. “It would be the 140M3 that would be comparable, if you’re going to compare apples to apples.”
Castellion said he didn’t have the prices on hand for a machine comparable in size to the bid provided by Fabick CAT.
“I priced a machine to replace your 140H,” he said.
“So, what you’re saying is that your bid is for a bigger machine, so therefore, your bid doesn’t look as attractive?” committee member Jerry Burkett asked. “It doesn’t take away from the fact of the warranty, and it doesn’t take away from the trade-in?”
Burkett added that the committee obligated to select the lowest bid, and provided Castellion an opportunity to get a comparable price for the 672 grader with a wing for the committee’s consideration.
“Our current grader is a CAT 140H, and the 12M3 is the direct replacement for that,” shop foreman Chris Frank said. “John Deere went a step up. If we went up to the new 140s on the CAT end, then we’re going bigger, which we don’t need.”
“When I talked to John Deere yesterday, I told them we were going apples to apples with a 140, and that’s where the confusion came in,” patrol superintendent Troy Schalinske said. “The new 140 versus our old 140.”
“Then we got to give him a little time. We gave him the wrong information,” Burkett said.
Upon Castellion’s return, he informed the committee that he didn’t have the 672 grader in stock, but that one could be ordered with an estimated price of $272,000.
What’s best for the county
Burkett asked Schalinske and Frank what the best grader for the county would be based on the information provided.
Frank said his recommendation would be the CAT 12M3.
“Just because of the availability, the price, our trade-in value and the warranty,” Frank said. “The other thing is we have all the service equipment to hook up to the CATs. I know John Deere is a little more proprietary on that.”
According to the bid, the 12M3 grader from Fabick CAT would be available within 10 to 14 days.
“I think we go with the recommendation that the guys want,” committee vice chair Willy Otterpohl said. “They’re the ones that are operating, not us.”
The committee Tuesday also:
• Opened and awarded bids for road striping on county roads.
The first bid, from Fahrner Asphalt, was for latex for $92,291.74. A second bid, from CenturyFence came in at $95,887.52 for latex and $29,942.70 for eppoxy.
“Just for informational purposes, the lineal feet of latex that we’re going to be doing is 1,198,594 feet as far as the latex goes,” Scholtes said. “Then, on the epoxy, we’re looking at 99,809 feet on that one. And that’s actually to redo County O on the epoxy.”
Scholtes recommended Fahrner’s bid for the latex and CenturyFence’s bid for the epoxy.
Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected].