$60,000 returned to Clintonville
By Bert Lehman
When the city of Clintonville purchased a new plow truck in 2015, it overpaid for it by $60,000, the Clintonville Streets Committee learned at its Feb. 6 meeting.
“There was an error in the documentation that we had found, and it was substantial,” said Kray Brown, public works director for the city of Clintonville. “As a result of that we then received a check back to us in the amount of $60,283.”
At the committee meeting it was not stated which purchase the city overpaid.
When contacted by the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette, Brown said in an email, “In 2015 the city had purchased a plow truck from Packer City International. There were bids placed on the snow equipment from them and other vendors. The city elected to go with another bidder for the snow equipment versus Packer City. Because of the confusion for mounting the snow equipment with all, the city overpaid Packer City at the time. As a result of the overpayment there was a credit to the city in the sum of $60,283 after further investigation.”
Brown added that it was Packer City who informed the city about the error.
“Packer City, who has done business with the city and many other cities in Wisconsin, on good faith brought this to my attention,” Brown said. “I am glad they did so and being honest with this purchase.”
The purchase of the plow truck in 2015 was prior to Brown joining the city as public works director. It was also prior to Clintonville City Administrator Sharon Eveland joining the city.
The refunded money was placed in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan fund, Brown said.
When the CIP was originally discussed, Brown had requested a new pickup truck for the Public Works Department, but that was nixed due to lack of funds. When the CIP was finalized, it included the Public Works Department purchasing a used pickup from the city’s Wastewater Department. The CIP included $11,000 for this.
Brown told the committee that he spoke with Eveland and they were recommending the city purchase a new pickup, using money from the refund to pay for it.
“The initial plan had been to go from three pickups down to two,” Eveland said. “We were going to surplus two of the vehicles and receive one vehicle. After further discussion and because we do have this additional money, going down to two vehicles may be a bit of a stretch. We were trying to do it to cut back on some expenses.”
Eveland said the proposal is to purchase a new pickup, which would be used by Brown. The current truck being used by Brown would have a lift gate added to it. The used truck from the Water Department would be used primarily in the summer when the Public Works Department has an increased staff. The department would still surplus two older pickups.
After reviewing cost estimates for a new pickup, committee Chairman Jim Supanich asked why estimates were obtained for only Ford trucks.
Brown said he researched Dodge and Chevy trucks, but he relied heavily on recommendations from mechanics and representatives from Waupaca County before deciding to recommend a Ford.
Brown recommended purchasing the pick-up truck from Les Stumpf Ford because Les Stumpf offered the best price by $1,200.
Supanich asked Brown if he talked to representatives from Clintonville Motors about matching the Les Stumpf price.
Brown said he did, but they wouldn’t match the price.
Supanich and committee member Amy Steenbock said they would like the city to purchase the truck locally.
“There is no requirement that the city award the lowest cost,” Eveland said.
She added that the committee has to weigh cost versus buying local.
“I really think it’s important that we help the businesses in town as much as possible, within reason,” Supanich said.
Eveland recommended that the committee approve the purchase of a new pickup up to a certain price and then allow Brown the discretion to decide where to purchases the truck from.
The committee approved a recommendation to the city’s Finance Committee to authorize Brown to negotiate and purchase a new pickup for the Public Works Department up to a total price of $32,800.
The city council was scheduled to discuss the purchase at its meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13, after press time.