City Council gives green light to purchases, special events

Published 8:45 pm Thursday, March 9, 2017

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
City of Elizabethton Water Resources General Manager Johann Coetzee speaks to members of City Council regarding a need to replace aging equipment in his department.

Members of Elizabethton City Council approved several items of business on Thursday evening including the purchase of some new equipment used to provide services to residents.
In a split decision of 5-1, Council members approved a list of requested purchases and expenses including items for the Streets & Sanitation Department, the Elizabethton Police Department, and the Water Resources Department. Councilmen Kim Birchfield, Sam Shipley, Richard Tester, Mayor Pro-Temp Bill Carter, and Mayor Curt Alexander voted to approve the requested purchases. Councilman Wes Frazier cast the sole dissenting vote on the matter. Councilman Jeff Treadway was absent from the meeting.
City of Elizabethton Streets and Sanitation Manager Danny Hilbert requested a new Street Sweeper and a new tractor for his department. Water Resources General Manager Johann Coetzee requested a new service truck and backhoe for the water department and washer vacuum truck for the wastewater program. Elizabethton Police Department Chief Jason Shaw requested a new police vehicle for his department.
When the matter of the purchase came up for discussion, some members of the Council had questions for Hilbert and Coetzee regarding the purchases.
Frazier asked Hilbert how old the current Street Sweeper truck is.
“The Street Sweeper we presently have, Mr. Frazier, is a 2006 model,” Hilbert said.
The truck has had several major repair issues and is currently not in service due to needed repairs.
“It has been using five-to-six quarts of oil any time it goes out,” Hilbert said of the truck. “It’s just worn out. It’s time to replace it.”
“We’ve not used that sweeper since the late summer when the pump went down,” he added. “It seems like every time we take it out something happens to it.”
Hilbert said he had spoken with maintenance personnel regarding the truck and was told the engine would need rebuilding in addition to other repairs.
The story is much the same with the tractor which Hilbert said he is seeking to replace. The tractor is a 1988 model and needs major repairs.
“I pulled it off the road,” Hilbert said. “I won’t let them use it. It’s worn out.”
The cost to purchase a new Street Sweeper is $228,373 while the new tractor will cost $63,230.55.
Carter asked Coetzee what the condition of the current washer vacuum truck for the wastewater program is and about the life expectancy of that particular piece of equipment.
“Our truck has some issues, but it’s still working pretty well. Around year 10 or 12 the large things start breaking down,” Coetzee said. “We are at the juncture where we know the repairs are about to get very expensive and we know the value of the truck is dropping very rapidly.”
Coetzee explained to the Council members that he tries to time the replacement of major equipment so that his department gets the most out of it, but also so it has the highest resale value before the equipment begins needing expensive repairs.
The truck is utilized by employees every day they work, Coetzee said, and the newer model will come with some needed upgrades that will allow crews to do their jobs more safely.
The costs for the equipment requested by Coetzee are $47.630 for the service truck, $98,372.55 for the backhoe and $338,519.24 for the washer vacuum truck.
After Coetzee and Hilbert had answered the questions, members of the Council approved the purchases.
In other business, the Council voted down a budget amendment on the second reading that would have allocated $85,000 of the Elizabethton City School’s tax fund to purchase property next to Harold McCormick Elementary School.
Council members also approved a request by the Carter County Car Club to approve the calendar of activities for the weekly downtown car shows beginning in April; a request from Milligan College to close down a portion of Blowers Boulevard for the Wholehearted 5K race; and a request from Milligan College for road closures in the city for a conference championship cycling event in April.
Before the meeting adjourned, Frazier said he would like to see the City look at turning over operation of the Elizabethton Golf Course to the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department. Alexander said he had also discussed the idea with City Manager Jerome Kitchens.
Kitchens told Council members he would need to research the matter with City Attorney Roger Day and the Municipal Technical Assistance Service (MTAS) regarding guidance on how to go through the process of turning the golf course over to a city department. Kitchens said he would do that research and report back to the Council on his findings.

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