County moves forward with $230K truck purchases against Robertson’s recommendation

The Russell County Fiscal Court moved forward with spending $230 thousand out of the county’s general fund budget to purchase two new trucks and added equipment (a snowplow and a salter) for the county road department at Monday night’s meeting.

The vote, which passed unanimously among the magistrates, came against the recommendation of County Judge-Executive Gary Robertson, who said he thought the county should look into other options like a lease agreement.

“If y’all want to buy two like that, you can, but that wouldn’t be my recommendation,” Robertson said. “If you’ve got the votes, we can buy them, but I’m not sure how we’re coming up with the money.”

The price tag for the trucks comes in at more than $230,000.

First, magistrate Mickey Garner, who initially presented the idea, made a motion to purchase the trucks after some discussion about purchasing the vehicles outright versus borrowing the money from KACO.

That motion passed 4-0 with magistrate Terry Waddell abstaining from voting. Garner, however, made a subsequent motion to purchase the trucks outright, noting that the county had a carryover of $1.8 million which could be used for the purchase. Waddell voted in favor of the subsequent motion.

“We’re showing a carryover of a million and 800,000,” Garner said. “If it came down to it, we could pay for it, right?”

Fenske cautioned Garner and the magistrates about making the purchase outright out of the general fund.

“You can do that, but at some point, we are at a negative of about $200,000 every year,” Fenske said. “And that surplus keeps dropping by about $200,000 every year. The more we spend and the more expenses go up, I’m looking at long-term. At some point, services will be cut, personnel will be cut.”

Magistrate Ronald Johnson, who eventually provided a second to the motion, questioned Fenske further about the carryover funds.

“If we have $1.8 million in carryover and you take $200,000 every year, wouldn’t that last nine years?” Johnson said.

“Well possibly, but it’s like this, we have a detention center thing we have to pay off and we’re going to get this judicial center thing we have to pay off,” Fenske said. “We’re going to get that too and that’s a whole lot of money over the next nine years.”

Robertson interjected, noting the financial shape the county was in when he took over as county judge-executive in 2011, which led to a back-and-forth with he and Garner.

“We do have a surplus,” Robertson said. “When I took over, we had to borrow $400 thousand something just to make payroll.” 

“Well you did, but we done a lot of stuff in four years with what you’ve done in 10 years,” Garner, who served as judge-executive before Robertson, said. 

“Well, at least we have money in the bank,” Robertson responded. 

“And we’re going to use it,” Garner said. 

Johnson said he didn’t see a reason to borrow the money.

“Really, why would you borrow the money and pay interest if you’ve got the money?” Johnson said. “That’s not how I do business. If I have the money to pay something, I don’t borrow it.”

Robertson noted the county would likely need to hire more personnel. With purchases of new vehicles this year being led by Garner and Johnson, he said the county has more vehicles than personnel. A need for more employees was also brought up during a road department meeting that took place before Monday’s fiscal court meeting.







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Zac Oakes is the News and Sports Director for and Laker Country WJRS 104.9 FM.