JASPER, Tenn. — Marion County officials say they need new dump trucks and are preparing to spend over a half million dollars to buy them.
At the Marion County Commission's January meeting, Road Superintendent Jim Hawk asked the board to consider approving a capital outlay note to purchase four of them.
"We sure need the dump trucks," he told the board.
County Attorney Billy Gouger said in order to borrow money, the county highway department must get board approval.
"They [the highway department] make the payments out of their budget," he said.
Gouger said officials expect the trucks will cost about $137,000 apiece, so four will total at least $548,000.
"We haven't solicited pricing yet from any local banks to see what a capital outlay note would be for that amount of money, but the term, by law, cannot exceed 12 years," he said. "That's the longest you could do."
Commissioner Tommy Thompson said county leaders have discussed possibly leasing trucks instead.
"My experience with that over the years is you can buy on a capital outlay a little cheaper than you can wind up leasing," he said.
Hawk said he has compared the leasing versus buying options.
Some companies allow leasing for a year with an option to buy at the end of that term, he said, while others trade in the vehicles for another after that year.
"In return, you're still going back and making payments on it," Hawk said. "Those trucks were [the same price] or a little bit more, but we've got to have some trucks anyway, one way or another."
He told the board he'd rather purchase the trucks and make payments than leasing them.
Hawk suggested that he wanted to stretch the loan to the maximum 12-year term, but Thompson said that's too much.
"You know, they say 10 years is the life of a dump truck if you take care of it," Hawk said. "I don't see why we can't take care of them."
Thompson, who has worked with dump trucks for many years over his career, said after about five years his trucks were "about ready for the junkyard the way I had to use them."
"You need to hire you some drivers," Hawk joked.
Commissioner Donald Blansett made the motion to approve the purchase, amusingly noting that Thompson was that driver in most cases.
The board voted unanimously to do so.
Gouger said the cost would most likely rise well above $548,000, since there will be some cost of issuance, loan fees and other charges associated with the purchase, and the state comptroller's office would have to approve it.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.