Parks commission agrees to purchase flatbed, new motor

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission is adding two vehicles to its fleet.

On Tuesday, April 16, parks director Justin Huss reported the commission is in a bit of a bind. With the staff expanding, Huss said, there's a need for more vehicles. He said former police chief Thomas Achord has retired his Ford Expedition, saying the vehicle is available to transfer to parks. Huss said the vehicle needs a new motor but only has around 60,000 miles on it.

"That would allow me to take the truck I currently have to put it into the pool, which would serve [employees] for going into town," Huss said. "There's a used motor available we could get for the vehicle."

He's heard the motor could cost around $6,000, Huss said, but he'd like to allocate $8,800 in case it's more expensive than that. Another issue, he said, is the flatbed truck has stopped working. Huss said that vehicle is imperative to parks operations.

"It is absolutely vital to to daily operations. This moves gravel. This hauls trash," Huss said. "This is not a luxury. This is a daily use. We're optimistic we can replace that vehicle in the $15,000 to $20,000 range."

Huss said he's excited to have the opportunity to transfer the Expedition from the police department to the parks commission.

"I strongly believe that is a good option for us," Huss said. "It's cheaper than Bluebook. That vehicle would be $13,000 or $14,000 on there, and we basically get a motor with a warranty on it for that, which jumps us up a vehicle right away."

He continued, "It's better that we can transfer that within the city and save some money than send it out to auction and get $300 for it. It has new tires, new shocks and it's in good condition. It has seating for eight people inside. We could use that for traveling to training."

The commission has no choice but to replace the flatbed, Huss said.

"That is a Leatherwood vehicle. That one we can take out of our Leatherwood Tax," Huss said. "This is not what we were ideally hoping to do, but we knew this was coming. We were hoping to make it to next spring, but that's just not the case."

Chairman Bill Featherstone said he wants to be sure parks employees use the equipment given to them.

"The goal is to get to where we don't have any down time with vehicles and equipment," Featherstone said. "When it's down, it's like you don't have it. Hopefully, one day we'll get to where all our vehicles are road-worthy and they're never down."

"I think we're about four years away from being able to cycle vehicles," Huss said.

Commissioner Steven Foster asked Huss to clarify his request, and Huss said he was asking for the commission to allocate up to $19,999 for a new flatbed and up to $8,800 for the used motor.

"The flatbed would be Leatherwood Tax money," Huss said. "The Expedition funding would come out of reserves."

Commissioner Ruth Hager moved to spend up to $19,999 to purchase a "new-to-us" flatbed using Lake Leatherwood Tax money, and commissioner Cameron DeNoewer expressed concern about making such a big purchase.

"I'm a little concerned we keep spending money, spending money, spending money, and we've still got to solve a shuttle vehicle issue coming up," DeNoewer said. "I want to be cautious with the taxpayers' money and our budget."

Huss said he takes the budget very seriously.

"We're just all getting accustomed to bigger numbers on a lot of things," Huss said.

"I just feel like it's important to voice the concern," DeNoewer said. "We have to have the tools we have to have. It's just that simple."

Featherstone agreed.

"It's an enormous task taking care of 41 percent of the land mass in Eureka Springs," Featherstone said. "The flatbed is a general use tool. I think we all agree you really can't not have one."

The commission voted unanimously to purchase the flatbed. Hager then moved to allocate up to $8,800 from reserves for vehicle maintenance, and the commission unanimously agreed to do so.

The commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, at The Auditorium.

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