County tries to save money on phone system, road heavy equipment tires
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Phone workers will tear out and replace a jumble of outdated phone lines in the courthouse including these in a room formerly used for 911 equipment.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Feb. 12, 2010) — Drivers from Ozarko Tire Center regularly deliver products to other customers in Pulaski County each Thursday, and company representative Johnnie Bell told county commissioners at their Thursday morning meeting that he might be able to save them a trip to Springfield to purchase heavy equipment tires.
“We’re here to basically see what you do for your county tires in the county barns and what we can do to help you lower the cost for the county,” Bell said. “We can give you all the state bids and all of what you need on your county’s programs.”
The state bid is a negotiated price Missouri state government officials have worked out for purchasing many different types of products and services since state government agencies typically purchase large quantities; counties and cities can use the state bid price as well, and many choose to use that bidding system since it’s usually cheaper than they could negotiate on their own.
Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham said the most expensive tires he has to buy are the road grader tires, followed by the dump truck tires. Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink said his grader tires usually “tear up before they wear out” due to sidewalls being ripped open or damaged by items in ditches.
Bell said that the county’s current tires are a less-expensive Chinese-made brand and it’s not what he recommends.
“Money is an issue for us,” Farnham said.
“Yes, but you need a good product to get you good service. If you buy a product that is inexpensive, you might end up buying it twice in the time it would have taken to buy one product that’s 15 percent higher,” Bell said.
Purchasing retreaded tires and replacement tires are both options, Bell said.
Farnham said Pulaski County leaders usually try to buy products in Pulaski County, but said that isn’t always possible. Grader tires usually have to be obtained by driving to Springfield since no local company carries them, and more recently, county road crews have been open to using out-of-town tire dealers for other reasons as well.
“We had one local here we spent a lot of money with but we started to get displeased with some of the treatment we were getting, so we went with another bidder who could provide us a lot better service,” Farnham said.
Bell said he believes his company can provide the convenience of on-site delivery without the need for county road workers to drive out of town, and probably can offer an equal or better price on comparable tires. Delivering to the county’s Eastern District road shed off Exit 163 isn’t a problem, Bell said, since his drivers currently deliver to another business very close to the road shed.
“If I deliver the tires to the county shed you can go over and get them mounted,” Bell said.
County commissioners made several other equipment purchases as well.
As previously agreed, county commissioners paid $86,000 for a John Deere 310SJT backhoe from Martin Tristate, a dealership based in Ashland. That’s different from the Caterpillar equipment the county has traditionally purchased from Fabick, Inc.; on Monday, county commissioners signed an agreement to buy a three-year-old Caterpillar backhoe currently owned by the county and lease another one for one year for up to 550 hours of use with no purchase option.
“We’re flush with backhoes; that’s a good story,” Farnham said.
After discussion, county commissioners agreed to pay $45,000 for a phone system upgrade from Fidelity Communications of Rolla, rather than a competing bid from CenturyLink, the company which purchased the local Embarq telephone franchise.
Responding to questions from commissioners, County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer said she “feels very comfortable” with Fidelity based on her experience, despite some recent phone and fax line problems, and said the company’s service personnel appear to be taking care of the problems in a timely manner.
“That’s important to me because you’re the one who has to deal with the computers when they tear up or don’t work or whatever,” Farnham said.
The new phone equipment will be an upgraded system that doesn’t require the county to pay for as many lines, Linnenbringer said; currently the county is paying a monthly per-line charge for some phone lines that don’t even have telephones hooked up.
“It actually comes out to be cheaper than what we are paying now,” said Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch.
In other business, commissioners said nobody had notified them of a fire call from sheriff’s department personnel reporting a smoke odor in the courthouse, but said they’re glad Waynesville firefighters found that nothing was actually on fire inside the courthouse.
“From my experience this town is so low that if people are burning wood, the smell just lays down here,” McCulloch said. “They had to come down to check it out, and I’m glad they did, but there was no fire.”
“All you have to do is drive down the Waynesville hill and you can see the smoke settling down in this area,” said Farnham, whose house is less than a block away from the courthouse.