Council debates backhoe purchase

Houston council is buying a $63,800 2008 Komatsu backhoe for the District of Houston, because their 1992 backhoe needs replacing.

Houston council is buying a $63,800 2008  Komatsu backhoe for the District of Houston.

The life expectancy of the current 1992 District of Houston backhoe is running short and the operating costs are getting too high, said CAO Linda Poznikoff.

Poznikoff says that new backhoe was included in the District budget for this year.

At the council meeting last Tuesday, Mayor Bill Holmberg stepped out from the backhoe discussion, saying that as branch manager at Finning, he felt obliged to step aside.

Deputy Mayor Shane Brienen chaired the discussion.

Michael Glavin, Director of Engineering and Development Services, recommended that council buy the $63,800 Komatsu backhoe, listing several other options alongside.

“This seems like an awful tall dollar for a used machine,” said Councillor Rick Lundrigan, adding that he’s kept an eye on backhoes, wanting to get one himself.

Lundrigan says this time of year there is not a lot of variety for backhoes, but spring and early summer there are more options, new and used.

“Have we explored the option of going to a new machine, seeing as we’re going to spend this much money?” Lundrigan asked.

He also suggested they might wait to see if they could get a better deal when there is more variety out.

Glavin says he listed a new machine, a $101,000 Case 580, but council budgeted only $80,000 for a backhoe.

“I cannot get a new machine for $80,000, he said.

He added that, based on suggestion from the finance department, he was trying to buy the backhoe before April 1 because then the tax will be only three per cent with HST, rather than eight or 10 per cent with PST and GST.

Glavin says he considered options based on specific things, such as age, hours and brand reliability, but especially backhoe reach.

He added that they found a 2010 demo model backhoe with $10,000 warranty but it hadn’t been sold so it raised a lot of red flags.

Glavin says they tried out the Komatsu backhoe and it worked well.

The backhoe council buys must be tendered by law, Glavin said.

“How long is the tendering process?” asked Lundrigan, suggesting that council could explore more options and get tenders on some new backhoes.

“You’ve got a five to six week window here before April 1,” Lundrigan said.

Glavin said it would take 30 days for a machine to be tendered, adding that if council spent over the budgeted $80,000, which they would have to do for a new backhoe, it would affect municipal taxes.

“I think it’s something we should explore,” said Lundrigan, adding that a new machine would come with better warranty.

Lundrigan made a motion to explore more tenders, contact key people and tell them they need tenders within 14 days, and see what options come up.

Council voted first on Glavin’s original recommendation, and four councillors voted in favour of it, and two, Lundrigan and Councillor Michaela Jolly opposed it, so council is buying the $65,000 Komatsu backhoe from Pacific Truck in Houston.