Council differs on Parks and Rec equipment lease

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

       There were some differences of opinions concerning the lease/purchase of a Bobcat 5600 for both the Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments.

       Those sentiments were shared during the March 2 Monticello City Council meeting, ending in a 4-2 vote in favor of the lease agreement between the city and Bobcat of Cedar Rapids. Council members Dave Goedken and Candy Langerman were opposed.

       Both city departments could use the equipment to water the flower pots along First Street, clean the sidewalks downtown, mulch tree branches, cleaning trails, maintenance at city parks, etc.

       The original purchase price for the same piece of equipment was $67,571. Bobcat provided the city with an $11,125 discount, bringing the price to $56,446. Due to the price tag, the council was previously reluctant to approve the purchase. So, the proposal during the council meeting was to lease it and allow the city to budget the payments over time, resulting in the purchase.

       The lease requires a $10,000 down payment, which comes out of the current budget, and a 48-month lease. It comes with an interest rate of 4.59 percent, and monthly payments of $1,061.01. With interest, that will bring the total cost for purchase at $60,928.48.

       “We have the cash available to make this happen,” City Administrator Doug Herman informed the council.

       An additional source of money for Parks and Rec that had not come to light yet is the John Baty fund that was established for maintenance and upkeep of the Baty Disc Golf Course. Baty contributed $100,000 for that fund through the Community Foundation, with $5,600 currently eligible for spending. Herman said the Bobcat equipment would be used to maintain the disc golf course, so use of the money only makes sense.

       The lease/purchase does not include a broom, which Parks and Rec Director Jacob Oswald said would be nice to purchase in addition.

       “It’s a good piece of equipment to get,” he said.

       Herman noted that in the past, the city has leased equipment for purchase when it came to Public Works, so this is nothing new.

       Goedken asked why the two city departments couldn’t work together when it came to sharing equipment rather than purchasing new.

       “Our departments work really well together,” said Oswald.

       Goedken said with the city needing to trim its budget and start looking ahead toward a new sewer plant, he couldn’t see supporting the lease.

       “It seems like too expensive of a tool for what it does. For my property tax dollars, it’s a poor investment,” he said. “The reviews were pretty comparative to a skid loader.”

       Oswald said while he can operate a skid loader, he wouldn’t feel comfortable for himself or Parks and Rec Superintendent Shannon Poe operating a skid loader.

       “I’m more comfortable with this,” he said. “It has more versatility for our department versus a skid loader.”

       Langerman said budgets this year and next are tight. “We’ve asked all (city) departments to tighten their belts knowing what’s coming up,” she said.

       Public Works Director Nick Kahler said his department would also make use of it for cleaning city lots and sidewalks in the spring.

       “It’s easier to maneuver getting around signs versus a skid loader,” Kahler said. In addition, he said Parks and Rec would be able to do a lot more on their own versus rounding up equipment from Public Works.

       Council member Gary Feldmann said it would be impossible for Parks and Rec to haul a water tank with a skid loader. And their current ranger has a low weight limit.

       “If I were in Jacob’s position, this is exactly the piece of equipment that would be necessary,” said Feldmann.

       Goedken questioned, also, why Parks and Rec had all this free time to provide additional city maintenance.

       “We’ve expanded more versus what could be done before,” Oswald said with the two full-time positions. “We’re able to get into the city parks and clean them up.”

       Herman said the Aquatic Center has also benefitted with two Parks and Rec employees.

In other city business:

    • The council approved investment in the Fourth of July fireworks festivities for $2,600. This was at the request of the Monticello Fire Department.

       “Thanks to the fire department for putting this event on, as all volunteers,” praised Goedken. “I’m sure it costs three times this much.”


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