Council questions vehicle’s total cost
How does $33,000 become $35,000 in two weeks’ time? That is what the Washington City Council wanted to know when it came time to vote on purchasing a new vehicle for the Washington Police Department.
During its Sept. 4 meeting, the council questioned a proposed expense that had been discussed a previous meeting. During a presentation from Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman, the figure of $33,000 was quoted as the cost of a police vehicle and approved by the council. Goodman said he would get a proposal from a dealer and the issue would return to the council. When it was presented, the bottom line had changed to $35,000.
City administrator Brent Hinson presented the proposal to the council, saying the council had previously authorized the purchase. He said that the purchase is a “nod to our newfound budgetary discipline,” saying the city had $33,000 budgeted for one police vehicle, and a second was authorized for the year, with the provision that a payment wouldn’t be made until the next fiscal year. He said the city would do a short-term loan agreement at 1.96 percent.
“We agreed, and I voted yes, on $33,000 per vehicle,” said council member Bob Shellmyer. “You came back and said, ‘We are going to make it $35,000 – Shellmyer, your vote didn’t mean anything.’ Well, my vote means something and I want that number to be $33,000, because that is what we agreed on.”
Hinson said that the increase on the amount is a “typical thing” and that it is a good practice from a legal standpoint.
“If you don’t agree with that, it is fine, but I don’t want to get hammered if we are over budget in this fiscal year,” Hinson said.
Shellmyer said that he planned to vote against the $35,000 cost.
Council member Fred Stark asked for more details about the extra cost. Hinson said that the city would have some benefit from the trade-ins, and the extra money was to be on the safe side, in case the cost was more than anticipated. He said the idea is to stay in the budget the council approved.
Mayor Sandra Johnson said that the minutes of the previous meeting showed the motion didn’t have a final cost, but just said that the council authorized the purchase. Council member Russ Zieglowsky found a cost sheet that Goodman had given to the council, and it said $33,000.
Hinson said that the council could approve $33,000 for the purchase. Council member Mark Kendall made the motion to approve the $33,000 expense. The motion was approved, with Kendall voting against the motion. The first payment will be due July 14, 2014.