Highway Department looks to purchase new equipment in 2021

Dawn Rye | Writer

During last week’s Turner County commissioners meeting, a motion was made for the highway department to purchase an asphalt recycler. 

Highway Superintendent Kent Austin said the current asphalt recycler is a 2015 demonstration model and now has electrical issues, causing problems. He explained the county paid $30,000 for the old recycler and he was offered $15,000 to sell it. 

Commissioner Mick Miller noted with budget and money being an issue, has anyone ever asked the highway department to make their equipment last longer? 

Austin said he knows what the parts are worth on the asphalt recycler to rebuild it and it’s only worth $2,500. He explained that if he put $15,000 into the equipment, it would still be worth $2,500. 

Miller commented he’s looking at the long term when it comes to the 2022 opt-out. 

Austin said he has three pieces of equipment he wanted to purchase in the 2021 budget, the asphalt recycler being one. He explained that this is one that needs to be replaced because the county is continually patching roads. 

Miller agreed that equipment needs to be updated, but the county would not have roads to pave if the opt-out fails. When the county purchases new equipment and doesn’t receive the opt-out, the county doesn’t have money to maintain roads. 

“The highway department is an essential business. We are going to cut somewhere else,” noted Commissioner Mark Kaufmann. 

Miller said the $900,000 opt-out goes directly to the highway department. Miller commented last time residents took out a petition it didn’t receive enough signatures. However, the county would be stuck with a piece of equipment they can’t use. 

Austin explained the opt-out pays for asphalt only. 

Miller noted there comes a time when the county needs to consider some of their options. 

Commissioner Jared Hybertson asked if this equipment makes the department more efficient.

Austin noted he’s hoping because it has its rolling system. 

He explained that the upgrade is because the county is spending $53.00 a ton for the current material. He said if the county goes back to the cold patching, it cost $190.00 a ton and this is how he recycles the asphalt. 

Hybertson questioned how long  they last?

Austin said about five years and the county uses this piece of equipment more than usual. 

Miller commented that he respects Austin, but he would rather address a concern before it becomes an issue. He asked Austin how his budget looks at the end of the year.

Austin said he would not be over on his budget. 

Auditor Shelia Hagemann explained the opt-out needs to be completed by July 15, 2021.

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