The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved the replacement of spray truck for the Noxious Weed Department, but the approval was not without opposition.
At a cost of $241,304, the new truck comes from Stahly of Bloomington, Ill. The department recommended the purchase of the 2017 Peterbilt and spraying rig to replace its current 2002 GMC Stahley spray truck which utilizes a 1998 model chassis.
The truck is used for treating pastures, fallow acres and brush for county farmers who pay the county for these services. It is also used to spray ditches and roadsides on county and state roadways (the county gets reimbursed by the state work).
Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips oversees the Noxious Weed Department and said the old truck was showing its age. It is having frequent breakdowns and parts are becoming difficult to find.
Considering it gets used heavily, it is important for the unit to be reliable, Phillips said.
However, it was Commissioner Alicia Straub who objected. She felt the commission was not given the option to look at other possibilities such as buying a used truck or going with a smaller, less expensive piece of equipment.
Phillips said the larger, heavier-duty truck will withstand the heavy use required better than a smaller one. So, it would have lower maintenance costs since it would need fewer repairs.
As for used, Phillips you don’t know what you are going to get. There may be more problems down the road.
Nonetheless, Straub said the county gets about $16,000 per year from landowners for spraying, meaning it takes 15 years for a truck to pay for itself. She found it difficult to justify the expense.
“This is vital service to many,” Commission Chairman Jennifer Schartz said. The county may never make money on many of the services it provides, such as the jail or roads, but they are still crucial and worth funding.
“I fully respect Dale,” Straub said of the director. “He has one of the best departments in the state.”
She just didn’t feel they were given enough options.
The discussion came to an abrupt halt when Commissioner Don Davis moved to make the purchase after saying “if she’s (Straub) is done ragging on Dale.”
Later in the meeting, Straub responded to Davis’ comment by reiterating that she has nothing but respect for the department. “I am simply asking the questions of any taxpayer.”
It passed 4-1 with Straub voting against it.
The old truck will be sold at auction. Phillips said it could bring in $20,000-30,000.