When most people want to purchase a new truck, the process is pretty simple. They visit a dealership or two, check out the inventory, make their selection, secure financing or pay cash, and within a couple hours, drive home in a new pickup.
That’s not always the case when the St. Francois County Road and Bridge Department is in the market to add a new truck to its fleet of vehicles. For example, the county commission recently discussed the upcoming purchase of a tandem dump truck that won’t be delivered until about a year from now.
The issue came up in a meeting after County Auditor Louie Seiberlich announced to the commissioners that his department has already received budget requests from all officeholders and departments for the coming year.
“I think we possibly set a record for getting them in on time,” he said.
Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher replied, “That is wonderful. I remember times at the end of December we were rushing. OK, you’ve just had road and bridge turn in a budget. When will that be formalized enough that we can kind of depend on that?”
Seiberlich said his department would have the figures immediately and then they would be sent to the commissioners.
“OK, so fairly quickly we’ll have a prototype budget,” Gallaher said.
Seiberlich replied that once his department receives the original request, they sit down with the officeholders and review and finetune it before sending it on for approval.
“Those numbers will then be imputed for you to define, refine, etc.,” he said. “Then any questions come back to us and back to the officeholders. We shoot for Oct. 31 — Halloween — to finalize it if at all possible. I think the state statute says that it has to be done no later than in December.”
Gallaher informed Seiberlich that the county road and bridge department needed an additional tandem truck at a cost of about $160,000 but added that it must be ordered a year in advance.
“Road and bridge wants the truck before wintertime next year, so if we get that on order right away, the money won’t be coming out until way up when in that budget,” he said. “We kinda want to get it finalized on the budget before we place the order because that’s kind of the process. This is on state list, so it doesn’t have to go through sealed bid.”
Seiberlich told Gallaher that as long as the commission approved the budget and road and bridge could find someone to have the truck ready for next year, “it would be great.”
Gallaher noted that “it was amazing how much shopping [the road and bridge department] had done.”
Following the close of the meeting, County Highway Administrator/Supervisor John Gross explained in greater detail the process for purchasing a tandem truck he said will be used by the department for widening roads, snow removal and other daily operations.
“When we order a truck, it can take anywhere from two to four months to receive the cab and chassis,” he said. “Then that is sent off to another outfitter that will install and plumb the hydraulic dump bed. Once that is installed, they put the hydraulic system for the snowplow and the salt spreader in the back.
“Then we’re looking for anywhere between 10 and 12 months before we take delivery of that vehicle. So, if we get a verbal commitment from the commission now to go ahead and purchase the truck once they finalize our budget, it will be available for us by the time it’s the snow season of 2019.
“We will be purchasing this on a state bid which is a competitive bidding process. Through state statute we are required to get ‘x’ amount of bids over $6,000. But with the state bid, it is already competitively bid, so we can just go purchase off of that bid if the equipment meets our needs.”