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Commission approves new plow trucks, semi purchases

By Anna Jauhola
The Kittson County Highway Department fleet will be upgraded this year with two new snow plow trucks and a semi-truck.
During the regular county commission meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6, the board approved the two requests. Engineer Andrea Weleski presented a bid for a 2016 Freightliner semi-truck from F-M Truck Sales in Moorhead for $37,525.
“We’ve been looking for a while now for this truck,” Weleski said. “Our intent is to buy a belly-dump this year within that budget that we had and use it for gravel hauling. … The belly-dump can haul three times as much as a snow plow truck. So it cuts down your trips by two-thirds of what you really need. I think it’ll be a good asset to the fleet.”
Currently, the county uses snow plow trucks, which are not in great condition, to haul gravel during the warm season. However, she budgeted $70,000 for 2024 to purchase a semi and trailer. They will now be searching for a belly-dump trailer to accompany the Freight-liner.
The commission approved the semi-truck purchase.
Weleski presented bids for two snow plow trucks to replace 20-year old trucks that are falling apart. She said one has a bent frame and the other’s box is falling out. She said she budgeted $262,000 for an equipped truck in 2024, but bids came in much higher than expected.
“The trucks alone have gone up 32 percent since 2021. Snow equipment has gone up 45 percent since 2021,” Weleski said. “I don’t know how anyone can budget for that.”
She asked for bids from state bid truck suppliers and snow equipment suppliers, all of which came back higher than individual bids from Bert’s Truck Equipment in East Grand Forks and Fargo Freightliner. Bert’s bid $149,474 for plow equipment per truck and Fargo Freightliner bid $143,350 per truck.
“The total is $297,809,” Weleski said, for each truck. “That includes a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty.”
For the cost over her budgeted number, Weleski found there is enough in the highway department reserves to cover the cost of the second truck.
Typically, they would also trade-in the old plow trucks for a discount, but were only offered $15,000 for each truck.
“My idea with this is we’d auction the two trucks we’re trading in. We’ve seen a lot better value of trucks when we auction them than the trade-in value,” Weleski said. “As an example, our last truck we sent down the road, they gave us $16,000 for trade-in, and they had it on their website for $32,000.”
Weleski added the revenue from auctioning those trucks will go back into the reserve account.
The commission approved the quotes from Bert’s and Fargo Freightliner, and Weleski’s plan to auction the old plow trucks. She added these trucks will last about 20 years.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved moving forward with asking Extension to complete a local option sales tax study for Kittson County. Weleski gave the example of Koochiching County implementing the tax a few years ago and it brings in approximately $800,000 annually. The study costs $3,000 and Commission Chair Loren Younggren suggested the Kittson County Economic Development Association could fund it.
• Approved joining the Tyler Tech system under Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative (MCCC) for $50,395 annually. The county currently contracts with Tyler Tech independently for $41,400 per year, but often has trouble getting support and pays extra if they need additional help. Through a consortium under MCCC, they hope to get better leverage and support.
• Hired Emily Bowman as a division of vehicle services clerk at $22.38 per hour, which is B-22-1, step 1 on the pay scale. Her start date is Monday, Feb. 19.
• Approved a bi-annual cooperative agreement between the Department of Human Services and the county stating the social services department follows practices and policies from the state regarding child support.
• Approved the annual agreement with Kittson County Ambulance Service for an appropriation of $18,078.
• Approved an annual contract with Dakota Fire, which includes a $450 charge for the annual sprinkler inspection and $125 for a backflow test.
• Approved the highway department to advertise for countywide bids for regraveling, striping, aggregate production, mowing, crack filling and gravel crushing.
• Approved a resolution imposing county road weight restrictions to align with MnDOT’s restriction schedule.
• Approved a resolution regarding replacement of deficient bridges. Weleski said they added the bridge above the Lake Bronson dam to this list to satisfy application for bridge bonding money for three other deficient box culvert bridges. “We don’t have bridge bonding on (the Lake Bronson bridge), we have the state park road funding money. But they still wanted it on the plan,” Weleski said.
• Approved a quote from True North Steel of $115,636.52 to purchase culverts to restock the highway department’s supply.
• Approved joining Northern Counties Land use Board for one year, at no cost, to see if it is an organization the county should be a part of.
• Approved a gaming permit request from the University of Minnesota Crookston for the Mark Olsonawski Scholarship Golf Tournament to be held Thursday, June 6 at Two River Golf Club. The golf course lies in Thompson Township, so the county has to approve a gaming permit.
• Tabled a request for a resolution of support from Hunters for Hunters.
The next regular board meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 9 a.m.

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