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G'town Council considers maintenance contract


January 23, 2008
Automotive and equipment maintenance was at the top of the list at last Tuesday's Georgetown Town Council meeting as two local auto repair businesses made proposals for a contract with the town.

Denny Merritt, owner of Merritt Auto Service and who has had the contract, gave the board a list of services his business offers and gave prices on regular maintenance items, like oil changes, tires and parts.

"My rate on labor is $63 an hour," Merritt said. "I can do oil changes for $15.90, including filter. I will do regular alignments for $39.95 and $59.95 for four wheels. I have a 10-percent mark-up on after-market parts, for the town. And I keep service records on all the town's vehicles."

Merritt offered to tow the town's vehicles at no cost, no matter how far the vehicle needs to be towed. He also emphasized that he had his own tow-in lot, protected by a six-foot-high fence.

Zac Noe, who owns Zac's Auto and Repair, also made a presentation and told the board that he would only charge the town $50 an hour for labor.

"I can also offer the town towing at no cost," Noe said. "I use the best parts available, and those parts are just 10 percent over cost. These come with a 15-month, 15,000-mile warranty. I can do most services the same day. I have two ASE-certified master mechanics, and I'm the only shop in town who has that."

Merritt, however, defended his proposal, saying that Noe could not feasibly do the town's work for $50 an hour.

"No place in town can do that work for $50 an hour," he said.

"Would you be willing to do it for a commercial rate?" Board President Billy Stewart asked Merritt.

"That depends on what you consider a commercial rate," Merritt responded.

"Would you do the work for $55 an hour?" Merritt was asked.

"I could do that," he replied.

"Well, our options are, we can give it to one of you, put it up for bids, or do a contract," Stewart said. "We can make a decision or table it until the next meeting."

Councilman Aaron Striegel maintained that the board should go ahead and act. He then asked how much the town was spending on repairs.

"Last month, I think it was somewhere around $1,200 to $1,500," Clerk-Treasurer Doug Cook said.

"I'd say it averages about $500 a month," Merritt added.

Police Chief Larry Potts said that his department spends about $3,000 to $3,500 a year on repairs and maintenance to police cars.

Striegel then motioned to give the town's business to Noe, and Karla Perkins provided a second. However, the motion failed with a 2-3 vote.

Councilman Mike Mills then made a motion to go with Merritt, but to limit the agreement to one year. His motion was approved, 3-2 (Striegel and Perkins against).

The council then discussed the town's Broadband Internet utility, agreeing that the town should have the authority to reimburse Broadband customers $1.15 a day if their service is interrupted, but refusing to act on it with a motion.

"What would be the proof that a customer lost their service?" Striegel asked.

"Jon, our (information technology) man, will monitor it," Cook replied. "We've stabilized the service now. It's not going down now like it used to. It has been running fine for the last week and a half."

The council then discussed and passed a motion to borrow $200,000 from the town's Gaming Fund to pay off a loan the town owes for the start-up cost of the Broadband service.

The council determined that the town would be losing money on the Broadband utility for a long time, saying that the town is billed $8,300 a month for the service, yet has only 77 paying customers and that interest payments on the loan is a cost the town cannot afford.

"It'll take 420 customers for us to break even," Cook confirmed.

"And when will the town have 420 customers?" Striegel pondered.

The council then received a year-end report from Police Chief Potts, who said, "In regards to a recent report that Floyd County and Georgetown had rising crime rates, I assure the board that there's no crime wave here. We've had a little bit of theft, but crime hasn't gone up."

In other business, the council voted to purchase a hopper for the town's one-ton truck that could be used to spread salt and cinders on streets that are too narrow for larger town trucks.

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Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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