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Municipal Utilities to purchase new line department vehicles

WILLMAR -- Willmar Municipal Utilities will be buying two new vehicles for the line department.

Jeff Kimpling, electric services manager, said staff had received price quotes for a half-ton pickup truck, a 40-foot single bucket aerial lift and body, and a bucket truck chassis for the line department.

The three items had been estimated at $180,000 in the 2012 capital improvement budget but came in under budget at $129,352.

The $25,371 half-ton pickup from Nelson Auto Center of Fergus Falls was below the $26,568 quote from Mills Ford of Willmar. Nelson handles state bids for any government agency in Minnesota.

Kimpling said the new pickup will replace the vehicle driven by the line department general foreman.

The $42,410 Ford chassis from Mills Ford was below the $42,672 quote from Nelson Auto Center.

The chassis will be joined to the aerial bucket lift and accessories provided by Altec Industries of Minnetonka, which bid $49,871, compared with a higher bid of $59,997 from DUECO Inc. of Watertown, S.D.

The new bucket truck will replace a small bucket truck that accumulates the most miles, but is costing thousands of dollars to keep on the road, according to Kimpling. The new truck will be ready sometime in November.

Kimpling reported on the vehicle purchases during the Municipal Utilities Commission meeting Monday.

In other business, the commission renewed a three-year lease with a farmer who will be renting 17 tillable acres of utility-owned land located behind Menards in southwest Willmar for $2,125 per year for a total of $6,375, up from $1,700 per year for a total of $5,100 under the previous agreement.

Commissioner Steve Salzer asked if the utility should continue to own the land or sell it.

Kimpling said the parcel was originally considered as a site for future well development.

Bart Murphy, water and district heating director, said the site has no value to the water department.

Kimpling said part of the utility's transmission line crosses the northern edge of the parcel. If the land is sold, the utility will need to include a power line easement, he said.

City Attorney Rich Ronning said the land was purchased because the easement appraisal at that time was close to the market value of the land. "We figured if we're going to pay that much money for the easement, we might as well buy it,'' he said.

In other discussion, interim co-manager Larry Heinen said two individuals from Springsted Inc. interviewed four commissioners and 10 employees on March 5 and another day of interviews is set with commissioners and employees as part of the organizational assessment study.

Heinen said the utility has sent job descriptions and other information to Springsted as part of the study.

-- David Little