Budgeted equipment purchases drew differing opinions at the Elk Point City Council meeting Tuesday, July 6. The council was looking to approve the purchase of a new patrol car and a new skid loader.

Police Chief Jacob Limoges said the Dodge Charger has been in and out of the shop all year. All the work so far has been covered under warranty, but it’s frustrating for city workers to have a vehicle that hardly ever starts or runs.

“We’ve had easily $15,000-$20,000 worth of warranty work done on it already,” Public Works Superintendent Trevor Job said, “and I can’t even tell you what’s going to happen when the warranty’s done.”

Another issue is that Dodge does not share the codes needed to repair their vehicles, so city personnel can’t fix any of the problems – the vehicle has to go back to the dealer.

“It’s going to nickle and dime us,” Limoges said.

He wants to fix it one last time and trade it in on a new Chevy Tahoe, cost $51,486.39.

Job wants to replace the city’s maintainer with a skid loader. Job said the maintainer is used only on alley and gravel roads; since the city is working to pave all the streets in town, he feels the skid loader gives him more flexibility; it can be used both for working the alleys and loading/unloading large pallets at the water plant. Estimated cost is just under $60,000.

Council member Ken VonHaden objected to both purchases. He wants the city to keep equipment as long as it can possibly be repaired. He also doesn’t feel a skid loader can maintain the alleys, although Job assured him there is an attachment to crown them just as good as the maintainer could.

“A maintainer isn’t as useful as a skid loader,” City Administrator Derek Tuttle said. “It [maintainer] is only used on the road to the rubble site.”

“It’s an expensive paper weight,” said council member Lance Penfield in describing the maintainer.

“It’s the wrong tool for the wrong time,” VonHaden replied, referring to the skid loader.

He feels the maintainer is the only equipment that can properly grade the town’s alleys.

Job said getting the maintainer down alleys is getting harder all the time, with all the utility pedestals being installed. The skid loader is only eight feet wide, even with the attachment, and far more manueverable.

See full story in this week’s Leader-Courier.