County discusses cost of new bulldozer

Published 1:10 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Decatur County Commissioners are continuing to look for a delicate balance between getting work done in a timely manner while at the same time desiring to save money taxpayers entrust them with.

County Commissioner Butch Mosely, who voted against the purchase of a new bulldozer for the Road Department earlier this year, voted against the purchase of a new bulldozer for the county’s main landfill when commissioners met Tuesday morning.

Mosely, who reiterated he wasn’t showing favoritism or opposition to any of the four companies that bid on the new bulldozer, said he was opposed to spending close to $100,000 on a piece of equipment during the economic downturn.

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However, the other commissioners—including Russell Smith, who took part in the meeting by phone as he recovers from a horse riding accident—outvoted Mosely 4-1 to purchase a new Komatsu bulldozer with landfill package from Tractor and Equipment Supply of Albany, Ga.

The bulldozer, which is a 2008 model that’s never been used, has a base price of $190,350 and an extended six-year warranty. The new bulldozer will replace a five-year-old bulldozer that was purchased on a buyback program. The approximate net purchase price of the new bulldozer is $93,793, assuming that the old bulldozer can be traded in or sold for $60,000 or more and the new one can be traded in for $50,000 or more in five years’ time.

In the past, County Financial Director Carl Rowland has favored five-year buyback programs for heavy equipment acquisition because he believes it keeps county workers from being stuck with older, deteriorating machinery and vehicles that lead to high repair costs. Some equipment formerly used by the Road Department 20 or more years old until they started being replaced by a newer set of commissioners.

Mosely, a retired school superintendent who was elected to the board in 2004, proposed keeping the existing bulldozer—which has 6,100 hours of use—paying the approximately $15,000-$25,000 to fix its undercarriage and do other maintenance, and continuing to use it.

However, Rowland, Commissioner Earl Perry and Road Department Superintendent Billy Leverette were of the belief that it could end up costing $10,000 or more per year to maintain the existing bulldozer, thus erasing the savings of buying a new one on a buyback program.

According to Rowland, two bulldozers are currently utilized at the landfill, but there are plans to just use one and rent another one as needed, and instead of purchasing a new dirt pan—which scrapes up dirt as it goes along—and getting a cheaper excavator.