The Troy City Council opened bids at their Nov. 21 meeting for the city’s backhoe that they had previously decided to sell in order to help pay for a replacement, as well as creating a committee to review bids for a new backhoe and approving a loan to pay for it.
The winning bid for the old backhoe was $25,551, from Stapely Contracting, almost $3,000 more than the city was offered if they traded in the backhoe toward the purchase of a replacement.
The council — which included all members except TJ Boswell, who was absent for a family matter — voted unanimously to accept the bid, which was the highest.
The council reviewed bids from three companies offering to supply the city a new backhoe meeting their stipulated criteria. Those bids came from Titan, Western States CAT out of Kalispell and RDO, also out of Kalispell.
The three bids all came in close to $100,000, with the highest at $103,000.
After discussion, the council voted to form a committee to review all the bids and make comparisons of the machines that were offered to be certain which represented the best value.
In order to meet the deadlines for the bid expirations, the council empowered Mayor Dallas Carr to purchase the backhoe that the committee determined to be the best value.
The council also examined its options for a loan to pay the remaining portion of the purchase price that it cannot pay outright.
The council had narrowed their options previously to First Montana Bank and Lincoln County Credit Union, but ultimately went with the credit union, which offered 4.65 percent interest, as opposed to 4.8 percent from First Montana Bank.
Council members Crystal Denton and Shawna Kelsey voted in favor, but council member Chuck Ekstedt voted against.
Ekstedt said that he still felt the council should use its own money rather than seeking a loan.
In discussion that followed, City Clerk/Treasurer Tracy Rebo clarified that the money which went into a CD after the Oct. 17 council meeting is not actually available for the purchase of a backhoe.
The discussion of using the money to purchase a backhoe directly had arisen when the city was discussing using the CD as collateral for a loan.
However, for accounting purposes, while the city could use the money for collateral, it could not use it outright, Rebo said. If the city did use the money to purchase a backhoe, it would put the city’s books out of compliance.
Rebo explained that while the money is in a single CD, it belongs to eight different departments in regard to accounting.
Ekstedt said that the discussion from the previous meeting — which included using the money in the CD for emergency expenses — had left him with the impression that the money was not tagged to any specific purpose.
The city council also discussed the green bin site on the southeast side of town, which the Lincoln County Health Department will not pay to have unlocked in the mornings as they have since April.
In a previous discussion of the site, the council had voted to have Troy Police lock the site at 7 p.m. every night in order to discourage people from scavenging or dumping prohibited items.
However, Carr revealed that Lincoln County was only paying for someone to unlock the site as part of compliance with permits related to wildlife activity.
Lincoln County Health Department Director Kathi Hooper said by email that the county contracts with gatekeepers at several sites around the county from April to November for wildlife protection in accordance with their special use permit with the United States Forest Service.
Carr said that he wanted to look into the legality of the city opening and closing the site on its own. However, he wanted to find a better solution than having the police do it.
Troy resident Celeste White suggested that the council might be able to find volunteers in the community willing to go and lock or unlock the gates at the appointed time each day.
Hooper said by email that the city would have no legal barrier to closing and opening the site as they see fit.