City racks debt up higher

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

Decrepit, dying vehicles can now be added to the list of things forcing Chiefland city commissioners to spend money the city doesn’t have.

Tacked onto a total of about $60,000 the city will have to cough up to fix mold problem at City Hall, is a loan for about $22,000 commissioners Monday unanimously agreed to taking out for the purchase of a new sewer department truck from a local auto dealer. The loan is to be paid back in 47 months at 2.17 percent interest.

But that’s not all. The commissioners, who have, despite pleas from staff, continuously lowered city revenues by dropping tax rates for the last several years, also tentatively approved Monday night the purchase of a new inmate van, also for about $22,000. 

The old van is dead, according to City manager Grady Hartzog, and commissioners want to make sure they keep the city’s inmate labor going strong.

“We do have to have a van for ‘em,” Mayor Teal Pomeroy said, later explaining that the inmate crews save the city a lot of money.

Part of the cost of a new van, about $10,500, was budgeted for, according to Hartzog, but, he admitted, he could only find a suitable van at that price in places like Sanford and Orlando.

Purchasing a vehicle from dealers in those cities would be at odds with the commission’s preference for buying locally, even if it did save about $11,500. So, depending on whether or not another loan at 2.17 percent interest can be secured, the city will be purchasing another vehicle locally for a combined total of about $33,500.