Hillsboro council defers forklift decision for third time

A seemingly routine decision to replace a worn-out forklift in the city?s water department was deferred for a third time during the Sept. 1 Hillsboro City Coun?cil meeting.

The topic first surfaced Aug. 18, but was tabled after Councilor Shelby Dirks questioned why only one bid was on the table when city policy is to seek competitive bids.

A week later, the issue was tabled after Dirks asked if the four companies that submitted bids had been asked to provide information about their warranty policy.

At the Sept. 1 meeting, the council reviewed the warranty information provided by the bidders, but before the matter went to a vote, Dirks asked if the city had received a bid from Berry Material Handling in Salina, a company that he said had satisfactorily provided forklifts for his business.

After City Administrator Larry Paine said the city had requested a bid from the company but had not received one, Dirks announ?ced he had personally called the company to inquire about the situation.

Dirks said he was told representatives there had twice tried to call the city in mid-August to clarify if the bid request for a forklift was brand-specific, but they had not heard back from anyone.

Noting that Paine was recommending an agreement to lease a 2014 Toyota forklift with less than 1,000 hours from a company in Wichita for $18,000, Dirks revealed he privately had asked for a bid from Berry Material Handling.

The bid Dirks distributed at the meeting was for a 2005 Yale forklift with about 3,500 hours at a price of $13,500, plus a service contract for $400 per year.

Noting that Yale is an American brand, Dirks asked why the city would pay $5,500 more for the newer Toyota when forklifts are expected to last for at least 10,000 hours of operation.

Based on an estimated use of a forklift for only three to five hours per week at the water department, Dirks suggested the Yale would be able to serve the city for several decades before it reached 10,000 hours.

?We have an opportunity here to save taxpayers $5,500,? Dirks said.

Procedurally, Paine said it would be inappropriate to accept a bid that had not been submitted though the solicitation process.

Instead, the procedure should be to reject all four bids that had been submitted, then restart the bid process. The council approved a recommendation to that effect by a 4-0 vote.

As for the forklift brand requested, a review of the bid specifications that were sent to potential bidders from Morgan Marler, the city?s senior water treatment technician, indicated the request was for ?a used Toyota Internal Combustion Lift Truck, or equivalent.?

Bidders had responded with a total of three brand options: Clark, Toyota and Nissan.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? authorized the mayor to sign a change order asking Maguire Iron Inc. to replace the top two steel rings of the city?s small water tower at cost of $91,800.

The additional task increases the cost of the total repair project to $289,140. Because the tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the city received a Heritage Grant of $103,000 to offset some of the expense.

? approved final payments to Circle C Paving and Construction for two seal-coat projects: $10,133 for the airport and $19,372 for streets. The recommendation also authorized the mayor to sign change orders for both project that resulted in a cost decrease of $5,262.

With the adjustments, the combined expense of the two projects was $227,746.

? deferred action on selecting voting delegates to represent the city at the League of Kansas Munici?pal?ities annual meeting in October.

Paine encouraged council members to attend. One of the seminars, he said, will be about nuissance-property abatements, which has been an ongoing issue for the council during the past year.

? heard Councilor Byron McCarty say he would like the council to discuss the future of the ?Adobe ponds? at some point.

With the accumulation of moss and vegetation, McCarty said the ponds ?look terrible.? He wondered if a drainage ditch would be a better solution for managing rain runoff.

? ended the meeting with an executive session for attorney-client privilege. No action was taken when the public session resumed.