Commission votes for wheel loader

Published 9:31 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2013

By Andrew Clay, Messenger Intern

After an extended and heated debate over the purchase and financing of a new Caterpillar wheel loader, the Pike County Commission voted in favor of the purchase.

By a count of four to two, with Charlie Harris and Joey Jackson voting against, the commission approved the machine. It will cost $181,000 and be financed at 3.2 percent to be deferred to the 2014 budget.

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Financing through Caterpillar, by way of the appropriations clause, will allow Pike County to defer the initial payment for one year.

Harris was concerned by the decision because the 2014 budget for the county is not approved.

“You are asking us to vote on something we can’t see,” Harris said.

Harris went as far as to seek the advice of commission attorney Allen Jones on the legality of the purchase. Jones advised the commission that the purchase was legal.

“If you go to jail over that, I’ll go with you,” Jones said.

Jones reassured the commission by analogizing that the purchase of the loader, through Caterpillar, was in no way different from carrying a bank loan and that, if in the upcoming years the money wasn’t there, the commission would need to go to Caterpillar and refinance.

Jackson was concerned with the use of the machine, asking about its predecessor. He requested that a weekly use (in hours) tabulation be made available at the next meeting.

Loading up future budgets with construction equipment was not the only concern for the commission as Advanced Disposal Service warned the commission that it will soon stop garbage collection at non-payment homes.

“We have got to do something,” Harris said.

While the remaining commissioners shared his concern, it was not clear what could be done.

“Our hands are tied,” Chairmen Homer Wright said. “We really can’t do anything except educate the folks to pay their bills.”

The commission did not vote on the issue, but collectively decided that in the coming weeks possible solutions should be discussed.

The final vote for the night was on an amendment regarding the use of county vehicles.

The amendment can be paraphrased to say that county vehicles are for county use only and personal use will no longer be permitted.

In a 3-2 vote, with Jackson abstaining, it passed. Commissioners Wright and Ray Goodson voted against the amendment.

The next meeting will be held on May 13 on the second floor of the Pike County Health Department building on South Franklin Drive in Troy