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Under budget spotlight, extensive list' of new equipment proposed

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Aug. 9, 2001
Lauderdale County Engineer Neal Carson said Wednesday he will give the board of supervisors an "extensive list" of new equipment he contends is needed for county work.
Carson said no new equipment was purchased last year and hopes supervisors will replace old equipment this year.
Carson would not say how many pieces of equipment are old enough to hinder county operations or bring the quality of service down, but he did say his wish list is extensive.
Discussions could involve determining how much quality can be compromised in a given service area, such as paving or mowing, or which services are more important, he said.
But some supervisors have said recently they will be watching the budget closely to avoid unnecessary expense.
One supervisors' committee will be examining travel expenses, and equipment could come under close scrutiny, too, in light of a recent discussion about equipment maintenance.
District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell said at a work session last week he is concerned "millions of dollars worth of equipment" is not being maintained.
He asked Harris Wilder, who heads the county's central garage, to address the board.
Wilder brought records showing maintenance and repairs of several pieces of equipment including pick-up trucks, tractors, motor graders and bulldozers. An entry on a 1998 Ford F-150 pick-up lists oil changes from 3,136 miles to 93,556 miles.
Carson said maintenance is being done and recorded.
He said later he will ask the board to pay Fuelman, the county's low bidder on fuel, for software that will help. At about $100 a month for the service, the software will print a daily list of equipment needing maintenance. He said the proposal has been in the works for several months.
Carson said he estimates 60-70 percent of the county's equipment to be more than 5 years old.
Boswell said the county has dump trucks that "aren't fit to drive" and are "dangerous" on the road.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.