When she last made the motion, only eight aldermen were
present for the vote. Once again this week, there were only eight
present, with Aldermen Buzz Busby and Jeff Hoinacki being absent for
At the first vote, during the first voting session in
May, Horn's request for a good used SUV for fire Chief Mark Miller
failed with a vote of 5-3. While it was a majority of the members
present, it was not the majority of the council.
This week when Horn made her motion, there was a brief lull
before Alderwoman Jonie Tibbs offered her second to the motion.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Keith Snyder reminded the council that for
the motion to pass, six of the eight aldermen present would have to
vote in favor. In the end six did, with Stacy Bacon and David
Wilmert voting against.
Before voting to approve the purchase, several of the aldermen
still had questions and comments about the purchase.
Last week Miller had fielded several questions and listened to
alternative suggestions from various aldermen. He had also provided
them with written notes supporting his request for a good used
This week Alderwoman Melody Anderson was the first to pose a
question to Miller. She recalled comments last week about buying
something a little older than the requested 2008 and perhaps less
He said he had checked and had come up with a 2004 model with
four-wheel drive and a price tag of $9,600. He said the downside to
that particular vehicle was that it already had 124,000 miles on it,
while the 2008 he was hoping to buy had only around 50,000 miles.
Alderman Tom O'Donohue asked about the suggestion of buying a
topper for a currently owned pickup truck. The cost of a new topper
would run approximately $2,600 and was not in the city budget.
There was some discussion about the SUV also not being in the
city budget because it had been charged to the general obligation
bond, which can be used for capital purchases.
Alderwoman Marty Neitzel also asked Tracy Jackson, street
superintendent, to tell her about what he had bought when he was
told to keep his purchase price under $10,000. Jackson said he made
the purchase three years ago and bought a four-wheel-drive vehicle
with 88,000 miles on it.
However, Chuck Conzo, city treasurer, explained that it would not
be reasonable to compare three years ago to now. He said the "cash
for clunkers" program had greatly depleted the number of used
vehicles available on the market. Because of this, the price has
gone up substantially as the demand for used could not be satisfied.
[to top of second column]
He also warned that buying a vehicle with 120,000-plus miles on
it could lead to the city soon being in the same situation they are
in now with the 1999 Crown Victoria car.
Tibbs spoke up, saying she was against the city investing money
in junk. She said if they did that, the vehicle would soon be worn
out and what they spent would just be money lost.
Neitzel spoke about her comment from last week that she would not
vote to purchase a two-wheel-drive SUV. She indicated that she had
reconsidered when she said that all the aldermen were interested in
saving money. She commented, "I said I wouldn't vote for two-wheel
drive, but we have to find something."
Tibbs also showed her support of the purchase, saying: "Taxpayers
expect a service. And for the chief to do his job, he has to have
the correct tools. Don't cut him short and don't cut the city
Conzo weighed in again, saying he agreed with what Tibbs was
saying. He said: "I don't often recommend spending money, but we
have to have a command vehicle for the chief to use. We need to
think about what is at stake."
Conzo also commented he felt Miller had done a good job of
narrowing the vehicle down to the things he really needed.
Anderson agreed, saying Miller had done a good job addressing all
the concerns of the aldermen.
Neitzel was the last person to comment on the purchase, saying
she felt the city should take care of this problem and then take
care of engine 5102, which has a leaking water tank that cannot be
When it came time to vote, a few of the aldermen seemed to
hesitate briefly before casting their "yes," but only Bacon and
Wilmert voted "no."
The vote means the city will purchase a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe
two-wheel-drive vehicle from Graue Chevrolet in Lincoln.
[By NILA SMITH]