The question at the Iron County Road Commission garage in Iron River is: Which will end first--winter or the county’s road salt supply? It’s going to be close.
IRON RIVER—Hopes of updating the Road Commission’s fleet at a sale of used vehicles came to a screeching halt during its meeting April 9.
There’s just one teensy little complication: How can we pay for it?
Nobody at the meeting disagreed with the notion that the Road Commission fleet needs to be updated. But finding a way to pay the cost—that’s where creative thinking is needed.
Board Member Charles Battan reported on some county trucks based in Iron River “that are in bad shape” and may be disposed of at a state auction.
MDOT plans to hold an auction in L’Anse in early May, and Battan talked about a truck at the state garage—even though the state website hasn’t listed it yet. “They’re really dragging their feet.”
That truck needs a new transmission, “but it’s a lot nicer than some of the trucks we’ve got,” Dean Stolberg, the commission’s master mechanic, said.
Stolberg said he is also looking at the city of Pontiac’s website. Pontiac is undergoing reorganization and is selling some trucks that are “really new.”
Other websites and the state also advertise used trucks for sale. “They keep their trucks for 10 years,” Stolberg noted. “Then they roll them over.”
“They don’t keep them for 30?” Battan asked, drawing a snicker from those who know how old some of Iron County’s trucks are.
But there won’t be a shopping spree, even if the county finds some “slightly used” bargains.
“We have spent all our capital outlay for the year,” Superintendent Doug Tomasoski reminded the board. “So we have to be very careful.”
The county will get some forest road funds, but that revenue can’t be used in the county road fund—the only fund the Road Commission can use to buy equipment.
The commission can transfer money from the primary to the local road fund, but it can’t go from primary into the county road fund. “It’s been like that forever,” said Tomasoski. “We just need to be aware of that.”
The county road fund has a balance of $105,000. Darlene Anderson, office manager, said millage revenue was allocated to buy a new truck. “That didn’t cover the new truck,” she continued. “We spent additional monies for that new truck because we didn’t get enough millage money.” As a result, the county has already overspent for capital outlay this year.
“Unless you’re going to raise money somewhere else to get this equipment,” Anderson said, “you’ve got to have to figure out where you’re going to get the money.”
Commissioners talked about a salvage sale from items in the garage that aren’t needed. “It don’t cost anything to check into it,” one said.
Tomasoski said items will be sold with a minimum price.
• Through March (25 percent of the year), the Road Commission has used 41 percent of its primary road maintenance budget. That’s not a concern, said Tomasoski, because most expenses take place in winter and early spring.
The local road maintenance budget is 49 percent spent.