ITID Staff Studying Whether To Buy Or Lease New Graders

The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors on Wednesday decided to follow staff’s recommendation to continue leasing several road graders in order to give the district’s new director of operations and maintenance time to analyze the situation more carefully.

Several of the grader leases expired Aug. 11. The item was pulled from the July agenda after discussion ensued over leasing as opposed to purchasing.

Supervisor Gary Dunkley pulled the item from Wednesday’s consent agenda to ask about the status of existing graders after welcoming Robert Robinson, the new director of operations and maintenance, who has been on the job for about three weeks.

Robinson said he has several options available for the board’s consideration, including a continuing lease of three Caterpillar graders at monthly rate of $2,448.81 each, if the district commits to purchasing new graders within 24 months.

The staff recommendation was to continue the Caterpillar month-to-month lease until such time that further financial data is compiled and a permanent decision could be made, possibly next month, whether to purchase or lease a fleet of motor graders.

Caterpillar offered an incentivized rate of $1,368.50 a month for each unit until the new units are delivered, with a commitment before the end of the month to replace the leased graders within 24 months. The company estimated the replacement delivery dates of two in November 2017 and the third in February 2018, at a cost of $205,400 each.

Two other companies offered proposals, including monthly leases at about $5,000 each, and an outright purchase at just under $200,000.

Robinson said a fourth option would be to repower and paint the existing fleet of four graders, owned by the district, at about $65,000 per unit with a maximum of $100,000 per unit.

“That is just for repowering, transmission work and paint,” he said. “That does not include tires, electrical, bushings, hydraulic pumps, cooling system upgrades or wiring.”

Robinson said the four graders have been sitting unused for approximately a year.

“I have gone down there with a mechanic and tried to fire them back up,” he said. “Three of them are operational, and one we cannot move because there is something locked up in the transmission.”

Robinson said he could not see spending a possible $100,000 per unit, and recommended the monthly lease option of the existing operable units until the board could make a firmer decision.

“What I would like to put together is a cost analysis,” he said. “I was able to extend our existing lease with Caterpillar until I am comfortable with the recommendation to the board for the purchase of a million dollars worth of machinery.”

He added that if the district chooses to purchase graders, the existing maintenance department is not set up to work on heavy machinery.

District Manager John Wodraska complimented Robinson on his three weeks with ITID so far, explaining that Caterpillar had initially turned down the district’s request for a continuation on the lease.

“What we’re really asking for is a continuance of one month,” Wodraska said, explaining that Robinson had been on board only one month and needed more time to do a feasibility analysis.

“This will be a million-dollar purchase, and I want to get it right,” Robinson said. “I’m one of the taxpayers who live out here, too.”

Supervisor Betty Argue said she would like more information on buying as opposed to leasing, explaining that even under a lease, the lessee is responsible for some costs.

Argue made a motion to approve the month-to-month lease in order to give Robinson more time to make a final recommendation, which carried 5-0.

In other business, the supervisors bemoaned the number of serious or fatal traffic accidents recently in the area.

“We’ve had several tragedies just in the past couple of weeks,” Argue said.

On Monday, Jason Laux, 24, the son of Deputy Ken Laux, died in the hospital after his 1992 Buick was rear-ended on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road by a car driven by 21-year-old Acreage resident Jacob Gordon, who was charged with DUI manslaughter, driving without a license, DUI causing property damage and leaving the scene of the crash.

Palms West Funeral Home in Royal Palm Beach will have visiting hours for Laux from 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday with a funeral at 8 p.m.

“It could have been any one of our kids,” Argue said. “There is so much tragedy in our community relating to vehicles and speeding. We had two kids in Loxahatchee Groves who were hit on an ATV, one a 10-year-old boy. I would like to ask our community, just slow down.”