County approves vehicle purchases, budget adjustment for Banik purchase

Cascade Commissioners voted Friday to accept a $436,769.88 bid from Bison Ford of Great Falls for five fully equipped police interceptor SUVs, four small SUVs, four 4×4 three-quarter ton super cap pickups with eight foot box and a one ton dually cab and chassis pickup.

Bids were due Feb. 1 and Bison’s was the best value to the county since it included everything the county needed and the trade-in value of five sheriffs vehicles, four 2004 one ton flatbeds and five other vehicles helped offset the cost of the new vehicles, according to Jim Ekberg, deputy county public works director.

County prepping for office remodel, vehicle replacements, road improvements

The sheriff’s office budgeted for the purchase of their five vehicles and the others were budgeted in the general fund.

The new vehicles are part of the county’s fleet replacement plan. A chart takes up most of a hall wall in county planning with each light-duty vehicle in the fleet and information about mileage and maintenance costs. They try to rotate vehicles every 10-12 years or 100,000 to 125,000 miles to lower maintenance costs, according to the public works department.

The plan replaces five sheriff’s vehicles every year on a six-year rotation.

During a separate special meeting on Friday, County Commissioners also approved a budget appropriation of $18,639 for the purchase of the Banik units.

The appropriation was essentially moving money from other county accounts into the capital building reserved fund, which is used for property purchases.

The appropriation was necessary, the county’s budget officer Mary Embleton said, because of another smaller and unanticipated purchase in the Tribune Executive Plaza late last year.

That purchase hadn’t been included in the budget, but the county had been leasing the space since 2009 and when it became available for purchase, the county bought it, Ekberg said.

Some of the funds pulled to the capital building reserve fund came from the elections budget, which Embleton recommended restoring to that department with another budget amendment in the near future.

Rina Fontana Moore, the county clerk and recorder and chief elections official, said she had some concerns that her budget was being raided for purposes other than what they were designated for.

The elections department doesn’t currently have a separate fund for equipment purchases and Embleton recommended that such a fund be created.

Moore said she bills the city and school district for elections and those funds go toward the administration of an election and replacing voting machines when necessary.

Commissioner Joe Briggs asked staffers to set up the separate elections fund so the funding could be restored to that account with the next budget amendment.

“That’s why this looks weird, because we have incoming revenue for one purpose being used for another,” Briggs said.

Commissioners recently approved a buy-sell agreement to purchase the Banik units for $357,800.

County approves purchase of office space for $357,800

Once that sale is complete, the county will own all but one unit in the building and is planning a full interior remodel to make the space more efficient for county offices and storage.