Watertown City Council approves purchase of new loader

The Watertown City Council officially approved the purchase of a new loader during its June 11 meeting, an item that has been under council consideration for a number of months.

The council previously favored either short- or long-term lease options, but the city ran into issues with competitive bid requirements with both of those options. Instead, the council approved last week the outright purchase of a new loader that will be financed over five years with an equipment certificate.

With an estimated interest rate of 2.25 percent, the city anticipates paying approximately $32,000 per year over five years for the loader. The council selected a bid from Caterpillar over bids from John Deere and Case.

Caterpillar actually provided the highest bid for the actual machine — $152,870 — which was nearly $15,000 more than John Deere, which offered the lowest bid. However, Watertown public services superintendent Bill Boettner estimated that over the life of the machine, it would the Caterpillar that would be the cheapest option for the city.

That’s in part because Caterpillar offered a better trade in value than John Deere, and also because Boettner said the Caterpillar doesn’t require a fuel additive that the other two machine’s would have, at an estimated cost of $2,000 per year.

The city needed to act quickly to replace its existing loader, a 1986 Caterpillar, which is out of service due to mechanical failure and would require roughly $50,000 in repairs. The city uses its loader for snow removal in the downtown area during the winter, light construction activities, and several other tasks.

The council voted 4-1 in favor of the purchase. Steve Washburn voted against the purchase, stating his preference for buying a used loader instead. He expressed his belief that when the time would eventually come to purchase a new loader, the city might be able to take advantage of newer technology that may be available at the time, such as natural gas.

Washburn also cited concerns with approving the purchase of the loader before discussing payment options, but he ultimately voted for the equipment certificate because the machine had already been approved and needed to be paid for.


In other business:

• Utilities Superintendent Doug Kammerer presented the 2013 Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report, which showed safe levels of fluoride, free chlorine, manganese and iron in Watertown’s drinking water. The city is required to either mail the report directly to residents, post it in a newspaper, or post it on the city’s Web site. This year, the report is available for review on the city’s Web site, www.ci.watertown.mn.us.

• The city council voted to maintain its current month-to-month contract with Charter for its internet service rather than switch to Carver County’s new fiber service when the fiber ring goes live. The city’s current charter service is about $10 higher than the price quoted by the county, but the city could save $30 per month by signing a 2-year contract with Charter rather than continuing month to month.

However, the council wanted to postpone making a 2-year commitment until city staff further explores the possibilities and costs that would be involved in expanding wi-fi to a larger portion of the downtown area. The county cannot offer to broadcast its service through a wi-fi connection downtown because it would compete with the private marketplace, and the county received federal grants for the fiber ring project.


Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]