Kneehill County approves extra $135k for equipment, citing high vehicle prices

ECA Review/File
Written by Stu Salkeld

Kneehill County council approved $135,000 of reserve funds to cover the price of three new vehicles that came in much higher in price than expected. The decision was made at the regular meeting of council June 28.

Councillors heard a report from Mike Ziehr, director of infrastructure, who was requesting an additional $135,000 to purchase three vehicles that were included in the 2022 capital budget but which came in higher in cost than expected.

“Kneehill County administration had budgeted for the replacement of one motor grader and two tandem axle trucks for 2022,” stated Ziehr’s memo to council.

“After the capital budget was approved in the spring, quotes were received that exceeded the amount budgeted. Originally the tandem trucks were budgeted for $195,000 each and the motor grader was budgeted for $570,000.”

According to the memo, quoted prices came in at $228,385 each for the tandem trucks and $628,210 for the motor grader.

“The unstable nature of the current vehicle and equipment purchasing environment has led to increased pricing on all aspects of the operations department, including the replacement of equipment and materials,” said. Ziehr.

“Pricing increases of this magnitude were not expected and as such, not budgeted for.”

He recommended the extra funds come from the capital equipment plan reserve intended for issues such as this.

Coun. Wade Christie asked if multiple dealers offered trucks in response to the tender. Ziehr stated there were multiple options for the trucks and when county staff inspected the vehicles the ones included in the agenda recommendation met the specifications.

Ziehr noted he did investigate why some other dealers didn’t respond to the tender at all, and they explained they couldn’t meet Kneehill County’s deadline, adding that even these vehicles included in the recommendation probably won’t be delivered before 2023. He also stated the quality of the vehicles is fine.

Coun. Debbie Penner asked how long Kneehill County keeps vehicles like these in its fleet. Ziehr answered that the current grader has about 10,500 hours on it and that’s exceeding the comfortable level as it appears 10,000 hours is the threshold where mechanical problems seem to crop up.

Both of the current trucks are around 10 years old with about 360,000 kms on them; he stated one of the boxes is rusted, one truck has some electrical issues and the other truck has been out of service for work 29 times.

Reeve Jerry Wittstock joked that if Kneehill County wants to sell those trucks Ziehr better stop describing their problems.

Councillors unanimously approved transferring $135,000 from the capital equipment plan reserve to purchase the grader and trucks.

Wittstock asked if the county could expect to see the vehicles within six to eight months, to which Ziehr responded, “If we’re lucky.”

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.