DEL NORTE— During the Rio Grande County Commissioner meeting on Oct. 11, the board spent a majority of the morning discussing the road and bridge department with Road Supervisor Patrick Sullivan.
Sullivan came in to make his monthly report and to answer some questions about the 2018 proposed budget. Commissioners welcomed Sullivan and inquired about recent jobs being done around the county.
Sullivan began the conversation by stating that his crew is preparing for the coming winter by drying the last of about 30 to 40 loads of sand in the hot plant before shutting it down for the winter. The dry sand is then stored in a location until it is needed after a snowstorm. Commissioner Chairwoman Karla Shriver inquired about the storage of the sand and asked if there was a place it could be kept out of the weather. “I went to South Fork road and bridge once to ask if we could store our sand in their shed, only to be told no. I have considered budgeting for a storage shed of our own, but it won’t be this year,” explained Sullivan.
Moving on to the next topic, Sullivan talked to commissioners about work he was conducting on County Road 15 which runs the length of Highway 160 from Del Norte to South Fork. Sullivan explained that there was a section of road that was the cause of an accident that resulted in a fatality several years ago, that he would like to straighten to make a curve more visible to drivers. “There is a group of trees that needs to be removed in order for drivers to have a better line of sight. I am trying to get in contact with the property owner and see about getting them moved to another location,” finished Sullivan.
After his report was finished, Sullivan asked Commissioner Suzanne Bothell if she had questions about his budget that he submitted earlier in the month. Bothell explained that she was wondering why Sullivan had chosen to do a leasing option for some of the heavy equipment used by his department rather than buying them out right. The conversation turned to budgetary matters, while the board compared the two options to decide which would be more cost effective.
Sullivan explained that, at first, he was not a fan of leasing, but was swayed by the logic of the situation. “With leasing, if something breaks, they come out and fix it under our contract. Where if we own the machinery, we would be responsible for fixing anything that went wrong. With the lease, we also get a new machine every five years, with guaranteed trade-in value of the old machine,” explained Sullivan.
Bothell asked that Sullivan consider looking into the possibility of not leasing any heavy equipment in order to purchase a new one every year and a half. She explained that if the machine is owned by the county rather than leased, it would be better in case of an emergency situation where the leasing payment can not be made.
By the end of the conversation, Shriver directed Sullivan to bring in the numbers for both leasing and owning the heavy equipment in question so they could compare the two and choose the one that would best fit their needs.