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Minutes don't match recorded council meeting

June 02, 2010 - According to Mayor Stephen Arkwright, the City Council did not purchase both a lawnmower and a leaf/grass bagging unit for $8,295 as was reported in the May 19 issue "Grass cuts, not costs." Instead they only bought the mower for $6,145.

"The resolution simply was to buy the one mower," Arkwright said. "Do I think we'll have a future motion on the leaf blower? Yes. It seems to make sense so we can be a lot more productive, but that would be a separate issue and could be voted down."

However, the Clarkston News audio recording of the May 10 meeting reflects the council approved both the mower and the leaf/grass bagging unit for $8,295. Clarkston News sent a portion of the word-for-word transcription of the meeting to Arkwright.

"I am not sure what to tell you about that. I do recall a discussion like your transcript states, but my recollection of the vote is as I attached from our minutes," Arkwright said in an e-mail. "I assume that the rest of the council at the meeting also recalls it the same way, because nobody asked to correct the minutes as presented."

He sent a copy of the transcript to City Manager Dennis Ritter and Clerk/Treasurer Jan Gillespie to see if "they remember it differently." Arkwright also asked if there was a time he could review the recording "to make some sense of it."

Former councilman Cory Johnston said once the minutes are approved they are the "official record."

"If there is evidence to the contrary, than the minutes should be amended," he said. "You can go back and amend the minutes even if they're approved."

Johnston also said when he looked at the minutes he recalled something different.

Councilman Chuck Inabnit believed the council had approved both the mower and the leaf/grass bagging unit.

"I thought that's what it was," he said. "That's my recollection."

Councilman Jim Brueck said he too thought the motion was to get both pieces of equipment.

"I believe the intent was to pay for the mower out of this year's 2010 budget and buy the attachment out of the 2011 budget."

Arkwright said the bills reflect only the mower was purchased.

Councilman Steve Hargis made the resolution to include both the mower and the attachment, according to the recording.

"Yes, I think that (buying the leaf/grass bagging unit attachment) was delayed until fall time, we didn't think we needed it," Hargis said. "That's going to be taken up and a new vote on that. That did not come with the original purchase."

Johnston disagrees.

"The way it's written (in the minutes,) it's already been approved," he said. "All they have to do is allocate the money."

As far as the mower goes, Arkwright believes it was a good investment.

"The estimated labor is eight hours, so this is a change," he said. "It was taking 16 hours with the Button mower.

In a spreadsheet breakdown, Arkwright said labor would cost $84 dollars per cut ($10.50 times 8 hours), gas per cut, estimated at a high of $25, maintenance per cut $5 and with the new mower cost per cut comes to $139.05, which is cheaper than the lowest bid to outsource, which was $4,500 annually.

Arkwright estimated the mower to last about 15 years. If so, he said the city would see a savings of $65.49 per cut versus low bidder outsourcing, $1,440.84 per year, and $21,612.62 for the life of the mower.

"It is a lot cheaper and saving a chunk of money I think," he said. "We also have better control of how it's getting done and when it's getting done, I just think it makes more sense for us to have that control."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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