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David Jackson

JASPER, Tenn. — Several of Marion County's trash and recycling drop-off convenience centers desperately need new compactors, and a clerical error could have delayed the purchase.

At the Marion County Commission's November meeting, County Mayor David Jackson said the compactors were available from Municipal Equipment Inc. in Knoxville for $18,750 each, but the issue accidentally was left off the board's agenda.

Several years ago, the board approved a rule that if a proposed purchase wasn't a line item on that agenda, the money couldn't be spent.

Jackson planned to put the matter on the agenda for the board's January meeting because the company guaranteed the price until Jan. 31.

However, County Attorney Billy Gouger said the board could suspend the rule with a two-thirds vote and make the decision immediately.

"By the time we turn this order in until we receive the finished product could be 60 days or more," Commissioner Tommy Thompson said. "So, if we could go ahead and do that, [we should]."

The board voted unanimously to suspend its line item rule and to purchase three compactor units for $56,250.

Two of the county's compactor units are "in bad shape" and are likely "beyond repair," Thompson said.

"We've got one that can be brought to the shop and repaired, but we don't have an extra unit," he said.

Commissioner David Abbott questioned whether the company's price was the only bid for the product, and Jackson and Thompson indicated it was and that they hadn't checked with any other companies.

"There's not that many people making those things," Thompson said. "We don't have that option to play the game of pricing against each other right here locally."

He said the board should purchase units similar to what the county already owns to keep the inventory of parts as low as possible, too.

If the board didn't vote to buy the new equipment, Thompson said at least two convenience centers would likely be closed.

"We could get two [units] and struggle along, but we actually need the third unit where we'll have one that we can bring to the shop," he said. "We've got one that we can repair, and that will give us an extra unit."

Jackson said the purchase would require a budget amendment that would have to be approved at the board's next meeting on Jan. 23.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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