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County Board OKs Lease of Tractor


The Mississippi County Finance Committee met Monday afternoon and approved the leasing of a John Deere tractor for the landfill, as well as discussed hiring temporary help at the landfill and road department. The board also discussed a way to possibly mow around the interstate.

Finance Chairman Michael White said the county general fund had a balance of $1.62 million as of Monday.

County Judge John Alan Nelson said he had talked with chief strategist JT Harris on the phone Sunday night about getting all of the numbers together on the purchasing or leasing of a tractor for the landfill.

Justice Neil Burge said he had received all of the numbers Monday morning and he passed it out on a paper that said the cost of the tractor was $250,726.28. The additional year warranty was $3,871.00 for a total cost of $254,597.28.

Justices were given several options. One was a lease purchase from John Deere, with monthly payments of $3,436.83 for 36 months, which would cost a total of $303,739.

John Deere Financial, Farmers Bank and Trust and Southern Bancorp offered financing options if the county chose to purchase the equipment.

John Deere Financial proposed a 20 percent down payment, 5.5 percent interest and payments of $3,831 per month for 60 months, which would cost a total of $280,005.26.

Farmers Bank and Trust offered zero percent down, four percent interest and $4,617.51 per month for 60 months, with a total cost of $277,050.36.

Southern Bancorp quoted zero percent down with 4.15 percent interest and payments of $4,634.50 per month for 60 months for a total cost of $278,069.85.

Justices chose the lease purchase.

“ We are still on track for netting out at the end of the year over a million dollars on expenses,” Judge Nelson said. “We are also having some very expensive items that we are looking to accomplish. So, a million dollars is just barely going to get us there. But we also need some equipment; the place looks really terrible out there in the summertime. The place grows up… it just needs to be dressed up and made to look a little bit more professional… We are due for an inspection from ADEQ this month, they make quarterly inspections, and I think we need to go make a little bit extra effort to let them know that we are professional in our duty.”

He added the landfill will also eventually need a batwing mower and a disk. He said the disk could be used but he’d like for the tractor and mower to be new.

White asked how soon he wanted to move on the equipment and Nelson responded the sooner the better due to the inspection coming up.

Burge added that the mower and tractor was on the lot. He added that the Sanitation and Solid Waste committee, which he chairs, approved getting the tractor; they just didn’t know if they would lease it or finance it.

Burge stated he didn’t know how they could beat the FBT deal of zero percent and four percent interest.

When asked, Judge Nelson stated he hadn’t looked at the numbers in depth because of getting them all earlier in the morning but in his experience of buying agricultural equipment such as tractors on his farm, they would trade every two to three years for a new tractor especially with technology changing. He added it doesn’t seem “feasible” to keep the tractor.

Nelson added, “We are in a pinch for cash flow right now and I think Justice Burge might agree with that, that we are going to get where we are going and once we get there we are going to be in really good shape. As long as we get there. My idea would be going the lease, but I can certainly understand if you want to go the other way. I think you could make an argument on either side.”

White said he does lean more to leasing it over purchasing it but money wise he doesn’t see it as a big difference.

Judge Nelson stated if they are going to have the tractor long-term then the FBT proposal is “cheaper” due to the buy back on the lease and the other two proposals are expensive on the front end.

Justice Bill Nelson asked what all it would pull and Judge Nelson explained a roller, a disk, and the batwing mower, among others.

Justice Howard “ Bubba” Norvell said he liked the lease option better due to cheaper payments and the conditions of the tractor after three years probably won’t be worth anything.

Justice Fred Fleeman agreed with Norvell.

Burge made the motion to lease the tractor at $3,436.83 per month for 36 months. The motion passed unanimously.

Judge Nelson said they would be back once they got the financials on the equipment, and White stated that the Batwing mower didn’t need approval from the Finance Committee; Judge Nelson could pay for it out of his budget.

Judge Nelson said he just wanted them to know about it before purchasing the batwing mower.

Also discussed at the meeting was the need for two positions — excavator operator and dump truck driver — at the Road Department. Judge Nelson explained that a labor position had already been filled.

Judge Nelson said because operating the machinery is a hard task, the county is going through a temp agency for the positions.

He added that he believes it also helps the county finance department save time if the temporary employee doesn’t workout. He said that if they do good work they will be hired as an employee of the county and receive benefits.

Judge Nelson said he believes that within eight weeks they will know if they will work out or not.

Judge Nelson added that two high school students have been working at the landfill to help clean it up before the inspection.

Later in the meeting Judge Nelson stated the lease on the compactor runs out in December and that the county needs to redo a lease by June 30.

White added they do need to start moving on the situation.

Judge Nelson said the cost is $13,751 for the compactor and the cost will be going down after some things are taken off the compactor.

He added that it is a Caterpillar like the current one. Justice Nelson moved to allow Judge Nelson get the equipment within those cost perimeters. Burge seconded the motion.

Lastly, Judge Nelson brought the Quorum Court’s attention to a project that his office is currently working on providing more mowing cycles in Mississippi County’s stretch of Interstate 55.

“We got a project that we are working on right now and I hear a lot in the county, specifically in Blytheville, about some of the blight that we have in our area and some of those things that tend to represent Mississippi County,” Nelson said. “I believe those types of things begin on the outside edges and radiate back in and I think our interstate/ highway is one of those areas that is consistently grown up compared with Crittenden and Pemiscott County or Craighead or Poinsett. We have traveled all over the state and Mississippi County seems to stand out.”

Nelson continued, “I told (Arkansas Department of Transportation’s Brad Smithee) our interstate looks horrible and they’re grown up and everybody else’s is cut. So he offered this really quickly, he said, ‘we don’t mow them to make them look nice. We mow them just enough to keep an accident from happening.’”

Nelson said he looked into why other counties throughout the state looked so much nicer and he explained that the cities and counties come together to mow more.

According to Nelson, the state pays for three mowing cycles. Those three mowing cycles are between May 1 and June 9, between July 15 and August 23 and October 1 and the day before Thanksgiving Day.

Judge Nelson’s office sent a letter via email to all the city mayors to inform them of this.

The letter states, “The bid this year to mow I-55 was $38.50. That’s $12 an acre to pick up litter and $26.50 an acre to mow. The three mowing cycles that the state performs for I-55 is made up of about 1300 acres per cycle.”

According to the letter, the bill is estimated to cost around $50,000 per cycle.

White asked if Judge Nelson had thoughts for funding the project and Nelson replied they sent the letter out and they will start there.

He added he would like to start this summer but doesn’t expect it to happen that soon.