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TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2007
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Repair bills up to $15,000 no longer need council OK

By Chris Paschenko
chris@decaturdaily.com 340-2442

Costly repairs for the city's largest vehicles will no longer require City Council approval, so long as the bill is less than $15,000.

Before Monday's council business meeting, Councilmen Gary Hammon and Ray Metzger said the council should vote on repair work.

Gail Busbey, the city's chief financial officer, said the measure is allowed under state law for vehicles weighing 25,000 pounds or more.

City Attorney Herman Marks requested that the council approve the measure to speed repairs.

The situation arose when Mark Petersohn, director of the Public Works and Engineering departments, said a sanitation truck blew its engine Thursday and now needed a $9,200 repair.

"I have no problem with the repair, but $15,000 without council consent is a lot of money," Hammon said. "I have no problem with calling a special session on a Friday or Saturday to vote on repairs."

Councilman David Bolding said, "If (the money) is in the department's budget, then let them manage it."

Ronny Russell, who chaired the agenda meeting in council President Billy Jackson's absence, agreed with Bolding, saying the council would only be formally endorsing a measure long recognized unofficially by the council for many past repairs.

Split 2-2 on the issue, the council adjourned its agenda work session without a recommendation.

During the business meeting that followed, the council voted unanimously to repair the 1995 truck, which has a loader attachment for picking up debris

But the measure to authorize all future repairs up to $15,000 without council approval appeared dead for lack of a second.

After a long, silent pause Jackson, who was present for the business meeting, seconded the measure, and Metzger asked to hear Mayor Don Kyle's opinion.

Kyle recommended the council pass the measure to speed repairs to necessary vehicles, such as sanitation or firetrucks, without waiting for council approval.

The measure passed 4-1, with Hammon dissenting.

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