The county is staying put with its lease program of Finning graders, like this 14M unit similar to the current ones in use, after finding that its overall hourly cost and resale value of the leased units remain extremely cost efficient. Image: Finning

Ponoka County grader lease program will continue

Bridge tender awarded, gravel work extended until September

Ponoka County council will continue with its annual three-year lease and resale grader program following a brief discussion on the viability of dropping it during its Aug. 13 meeting.

CAO Charlie Cutforth and public works superintendent Herb Schwingel brought the topic up after explaining that the recent sale of a 12-year old grader for $183,000 calculated to a cost of $21 per hour over the life of the unit with the county.

“That’s a great price,” said Cutforth, “and the program we have is terrific considering, with our leasing and other costs plus current grader prices, that we are still averaging about $45 per hour while the government rate is at $240.

Schwingel added that the return on the leased graders has also remained high, with the last three graders selling for an average of $390,000.

“The interest is great in these used graders that are still in great shape,” he said, adding that the county tends to get better pricing on the new graders if the orders are done in the fall.

Coun. Doug Weir, who made the motion to continue leasing, was adamant this is the best route for the county.

“We have to continue with it. It will wind up costing us a lot more in the long run if we don’t,” he said.

The vote in favour was unanimous, minus Reeve Paul McLauchlin, who was out of the province at the time.

Gravel work

With the rather wet spring and summer, the motion was brought forward to extend the county’s gravel program an extra couple of weeks. Council agreed to review the situation next month.

Cutforth explained that as the program is close to being completed for the season, there remains some places that are still in need of work. He added that there is money available since the county’s 2019 road construction budget hasn’t been fully utilized due to the weather and other issues.

“There are other things going on that would allow us to cover additional gravelling, ” he said.

Schwingel agreed with Cutforth, noting there are roads that have been added to the program even this late in the season and that it may be beneficial to keep things operational for a length of time.

In the end, council approved a recommendation from administration to continue with the program — including the use of gravel truck contractors — until their meeting on Sept. 10 when the situation will be reviewed.

Bridge tender

Council ratified the contract for the replacement of the bridge on Township 441, just west of Range Road 15, to Formula Alberta Ltd. of Stony Plain.

The company’s bid of $686,000 doesn’t include another $204,000 for concrete girders that needed to be replaced, as found by the engineering study that came in at a cost of close to $96,000. The initial budget for the project was set at $1.2 million, but with the lower tender expense and the provincial grant covering 75 per cent of the project, the county will be left to pay about $100,000 less — around $263,000 — than originally thought.

No date for the work to start was available at press time.

Additionally, the county will soon begin replacement of a bridge on Twp 424 near RR 271, changing out the old structure with a new large culvert.

Peace-ful benefit

The county has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Town of Rimbey, which will allow the county to access the services of Rimbey’s new community peace officer. The town recently got back its accreditation from the provincial government to employ peace officers.

The agreement will benefit the county through enhanced coverage and enforcement capabilities, mostly around Gull Lake and on the weekends in the west portion of the county, in exchange for the county paying for any costs related to that extended coverage.

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