Commissioners put the brakes on equipment deal to roll over Pct. 3 debt
Polk County Enterprise - November 2007
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — County officials balked at Pct. 3 Commissioner Buddy Purvis’ request to trade-in equipment from the Pct. 3 Road and Bridge Department inventory and make a buyboard purchase of a 2008 Mack truck for $97,217 with a buyback of $79,000 for a 2007 Mack dump truck.
The trade-in amount offered was more than $100,000 less than the remaining balance on the debt owed on that equipment, County Auditor Ray Stelly said.
Stelly and County Judge John Thompson voiced their objections to rolling that $100,000 into new debt.
Thompson made the suggestion that Purvis try to sell the equipment by using the county’s newly established online auction service, where he could possibly recoup the entire amount owed on the equipment.
“You can’t finance debt with new debt,” Thompson added. “I don’t mind buying new equipment but this is a bad precedent.”
Pct. 2 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet added that used equipment is selling for premium prices.
“It’s all put in there together. It’s not particularly my indebtedness,” Purvis said. “It’s hard to break it apart to individual machines.”
“If I had known you wanted to sell those motor graders a few months ago, I would have bought them from you for what you owed on them,” Overstreet said.
Stelly added that the dealer is offering $100,000 on trade-in for a machine worth $210,000.
Purvis said his main priority was to get rid of the 318 excavator that “can’t work four full days a week.”
“I want it off my yard even if I have to go $200,000 in debt,” Purvis said.
Stelly explained that the equipment is financed with a tax note issued in 2005 and officials can’t just carve out part of that note and pay it off.
“When we put (equipment) in, it’s amortized based on its expected life,” Judge Thompson said. “If it’s a motor grader it’s five years, a car three years or a computer for three years.”
Pct. 1 Commissioner Bob Willis supported Purvis’ request.
The new equipment comes with a five-year warranty and you could argue that he would have more debt and more interest keeping the current equipment, according to Willis.
“The people in his precinct elected him to do as he sees fit and I support him on that,” Willis said. “He could save more than $100,000 in maintenance costs.”
“I visited with the auditor about this earlier,” Willis said. “My concern at that point is since tax notes could not be paid off early since we sell those to people who have a right to expect a certain return on the investment. We have the same problem when we buy a sheriff’s car. If one of them happens to get wrecked we can’t pay it off and buy another one. We continue to pay on that one that’s not there.”
However, a review of county records showed that when two patrol vehicles were declared total losses and a third vehicle suffered less severe damage in a high speed pursuit crash earlier this year, the county’s insurance provider reimbursed the county for much of the damage.
During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, Larry Finsted of Onalaska said at a recent meeting of the Lower Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, board members discussed sending a request to Commissioner’s Court asking to replace John Martin for nonattendance at meetings and failure to complete required training in the Texas Open Meetings Act.
If that vacancy occurs, Finstead said he would like to be considered to fill the post.
He has served on the board of the Lake Livingston Water Supply Corporation during its $17.5 million capital improvement project funded by grants.
“Are they saying he’s not qualified or is he wanting to quit,” Pct 3 Commissioner Buddy Purvis asked. “Is Buffalo (Allwright, president of the groundwater district board of directors) wanting to get rid of John?”
“We have to do more checking before we take any action on that,” Purvis added.
Commissioners voted to advertise for bids to repair water damage and remove mold at the county-owned Dunbar complex on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
County Maintenance Engineer Jay Burks said the building was evaluated by an environmental health consultant after a staff member complained of persistent allergies while in the building.
They checked for mold, asbestos and other potentially harmful airborne materials. Some mold was found, but Burks said it was not airborne.
The mold was the result of some roof leaks that occurred four to five years ago. Additional leaks were found in some window sills and the dome on top of the building.
Commissioners voted unanimously to seek bids for the repairs.
Other items approved Tuesday include:
•A resolution authorizing Polk County’s application for grant funds to be distributed in Round V of the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.
• A resolution and ballot to elect 2008-09 Polk Central Appraisal District Board of Directors.
• An amendment to the county’s contract with Americare EMS increasing required minimum insurance coverage to $1 million .
• Accepted the dedication of Rue du Lac in the Beau Rivage Subdivision in Precinct 1 as a county road and added to the master street address guide.
• Approval to advertise for bids for asphalt application.
• Approve of a third amendment and extension of a lease agreement with the University of Texas Medical Branch for office/clinic space at Polk County Regional Health Center;
• Approval of the final plat for Nine Acres Estates, a subdivision located in Precinct 1;
• Approval of revised resolution approving payment of budgeted claims deemed routine, regularly recurring and/or time sensitive to be ratified at a subsequent meeting, adding travel reimbursement and advances;
• Approve a resolution related to signatory document for Texas Community Development Block Grant Contract 727147; and
• Consideration of a revised resolution expressing intent to reimburse expenditures to be incurred by the county.
• Approval of final subdivision plats for Four Corners Phase Three and a partial re-plat of Four Corners Phase Two;
• Approval of final plat for Holiday Woods Subdivision in Precinct 1.