Budget windfall enables buying 2 trucks

As part of an unexpected general fund windfall, Warren City Council elected to outright purchase two five-ton dump trucks during its meeting Monday evening.

Council also agreed to finance the purchase of a pickup truck. The value of the dump trucks is $224,000. Total vehicle cost, according to Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz, is $261,924.24.

Holtz said that $50,000 of the cost of the vehicles is included in the 2014 budget and that a “small portion” will come from the sewer fund given the truck’s intended use.

Further, additional funding will come from the sale of the city’s old street sweeper. “One deal out there (is) for $9,000,” said Holtz, advocating that the deal be accepted. “It is taking up valuable garage space.”

Councilman Sam Harvey was the first to suggest that the windfall be used to pay for the dump trucks but still finance the truck.

“I’m getting concerned… that we don’t have enough cushion” in fund balance, Mayor Maurice Cashman said. “I think we’ve come to the end of the rope there in my view.”

“How do we not have a cushion if we have $750,000 more than we thought they would?” Harvey asked.

Cashman expressed hesitance due to the fact that the city receives less in taxes over the summer when a more substantial cushion could be needed to avoid a tax revenue anticipation note (TRAN), short-term borrowing to cover those lean times. “What you’re doing is replacing short-term borrowing over the summer with year-round interest payments,” Harvey claimed.

“What we are saying, (we are) going to be in the same position originally if we had not had the windfall,” Councilman Howard Ferguson said.

“Pretty much,” said Harvey. “Now, instead of having a debt that extends into future years, (I) hope it frees up money to do more paving… or reduce taxes. This is an actual expense today.”

Harvey’s proposal passed 6-1 with Cashman dissenting.