By Heidi Zemach for SCN –
The Seward City Council gave Seward City Manager Jim Hunt the go-ahead to purchase a Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge he found for his use while on city business, and which he promised could also be used by city employees travelling from Seward. The decision came at last Monday’s City Council meeting, in which several different transportation-related issues were addressed.
In doing so, they agreed to waive normal competitive procurement requirements for vehicles for their motor pool fleet, noting in Resolution 2014-011 and the City Manager’s Justification that it was “in the best interest of the City of Seward,” and: “of the quotes received Lithia Dodge’s quote was considerably less, and more timely, justifying the alternative procedure for procurement.”
Council members Marianna Keil, Christy Terry, Dave Squires and Dale Butts voted in favor of authorizing the purchase, but Seward City Mayor Jean Bardarson voted against it, explaining that she would prefer to see the City of Seward purchase an SUV for the motor pool, not another truck. She would like to see the city have more versatility in its ability to show visiting dignitaries around town, and SUVs are more comfortable and easier to get in and out of than trucks, the mayor said later.
The Korean Consulate arrives in Seward this Tuesday for a visit with city officials, and there are no good SUVs in the city fleet to show him around in, Bardarson said. The Crown Victoria that former City Manager Phillip Oates drove had a steering column that you had to hold up in order to shift gears, and Mr. Hunt doesn’t feel safe in his 2008 Subaru Forester, which he had been in an accident in, she said.
Hunt emailed three vendors for quotes, and received two responses in late December, of which the Lithia Dodge, available at Alaska Sales and Services’ end-of-the-year sale was “clearly superior in price and timeliness.” The city manager also traded in the Forester that he was driving for $11 thousand, bringing the price of the new Jeep truck with covered camper to $29,400, even with $2,700 in accessories.
“It has been in an accident, sits low to the ground, and is not safe to drive great distances from Seward,” he wrote in the justification. “It also lacks storage and the ability to haul large loads, consistent with the needs of a vehicle assigned to the primary Incident Command Officer for the city. A truck will be safer for travel for city employees including the city manager and will have the added benefit of being able to carry loads, including emergency supplies.”
The council had recognized the need for a better quality vehicle, and approved the purchase of up to $30,000 during the budget process for 2014-201, the resolution Hunt sponsored said.
The City Manager is currently allowed to make purchases worth $50,000 or less without prior council approval, but city vehicles are an exception, and must receive prior council approval, said council member Terry.
Meanwhile there was a strong showing of public support last Monday night for the continuation of the Independent Living Center and Providence Seward’s taxi voucher programs, the new Seward Senior Center van, a proposed transportation program, and for paying $87 thousand to Harmon Construction for sidewalk improvements and ADA-curb cuts from folks unable to drive due to age, illness or disabilities.
-adopted the top transportation priorities established by the local transportation committee (taxi vouchers and the new senior center van) for the purposes of their pursuing federal and state grants.
-accepted a Rasmuson grant of $20,000 toward completing the Seward Mariner’s Memorial project.
-compensated Metco Inc., $79,000 for removing and disposing of rocky debris in October 2013 when Lowell Creek outfall was threatening to flood out the bridge.
-authorized $96,000 to purchase more automated pay stations to collect daily camping fees.
-authorized an $87,000 contract with Harmon Construction for sidewalk improvements, including curb cuts.