On a 3-2 vote on Monday, the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors opted to contact Southern Procurement LLC to initiate a reverse auction procedure to purchase new trucks for the board members to use.
Outgoing District 3 Supervisor Dennis Holmes and newly re-elected District 5 Supervisor Gloria Dickerson voted no.
Although Holmes did not offer up a reason for his no vote, Dickerson was vocally expressive with her opposition. “I’d rather put mine toward a dump truck for the road department,” she said. Dickerson told the other members that she didn’t want a truck.
According to County Administrator Gloria McIntosh, purchasing the trucks was a budgeted item. And President Glenn Donald reminded Dickerson that the road department vehicles fall under a different budget line item. “I don’t care, move it then, amend it,” she said.
Dickerson expressed that getting equipment to repair the county’s ailing infrastructure should take priority over purchasing trucks for personal use. “That’s more important to me than riding in a truck,” she added.
Donald said the matter had been previously discussed and that the county’s purchasing clerk had been asked to research the matter. According to him, buying new vehicles made more economic sense than purchasing pre-owned vehicles. “The used vehicles, 15’s and 16’s, were almost just as expensive as new ones. We would pay $31,000 for a used one, with 70,000— 80,000—90,000 miles and you can get a new one for like $37,000,” Donald said.
He also said that he was told that the used vehicles could not be bought through reverse auction. In addition, he had the clerk to come in and explain her findings to the members in more detail.
The clerk said that of the pre-owned car dealerships that she contacted only Delta South Motors responded. She also validated Donald’s statement that the used vehicles were not that much less expensive than new ones.
After a brief discussion about the various options and costs, Donald asked Attorney Johnny McWilliams how to move forward and McWilliams explained to the county lawmakers that they would have to have at least two quotes to purchase used vehicles and that the purchasing of new ones would have to be done through the reverse auction process unless they were bought on state contract.
They discussed several options including a Ram 1500 extended cab, 4-wheel drive, half-ton truck that had a state contract base price of $22,450. “That’s a work truck, rubber mats,” Donald said.
He also mentioned several other models and packages including a $34,568 truck from Cannon Motors. In the end, he called for a motion to have Southern Procurement carryout the reverse auction process for 2020 model Ford F-150 XLTs. District 4 Supervisor Anthony Clark made the motion and District 2 Supervisor Riley Rice seconded and Donald cast the deciding yes vote after Holmes and Dickerson voted no.
Rice explained, “The reason why I voted for it… I know it’s my choice, but I get $846 a month that’s all I get. Just about $140,000 or more of that money that I get go back to the county, now that’s my reason for seconding that motion. I want to make that clear.”
Rice added, “When I do my income tax, I paid in four thousand and some dollars and I owe four thousand and some more dollars, so year to date, $6,826 and of that $6,826 I still owe four thousand some more of that, so really I’m donating my time to the county for about a little over $2000 a year.”
Rice then added that he doesn’t claim any mileage for using his personal vehicle. “It’s my decision to do it, but I was just letting everyone know the reason why I seconded that motion.”
Donald then offered up his reason for voting for the motion. “Normally, the state would allow us to use mileage when we file our income tax and that would kind of subsidize, but we have to buy our own truck, we provide our own insurance, we buy our own gas and we get nothing in return now, zero. The state won’t even let you itemize or use that any more,” he said.
Donald said that a woman from the state revenue office has communicated to McIntosh that he (Donald) would no longer be able to claim the mileage on his tax return. According to Donald, they were able to do it in the past, but he had to pay back money this year because it was not allowed.
McIntosh explained what happened when Donald tried to claim the deduction on his tax returns. “She said that that is an allowance that the county is supposed to be subsidizing and so the state is not going to do it, federal is not going to do it, because it is something that the county should be doing.” Donald added that the law just changed for this year.
McIntosh then stated that even though the lawmakers could not claim it on their tax returns, they could submit a mileage log to her office each month and be reimbursed for their traveled miles on county roads. Dickerson said that’s the way she wants to do hers and reemphasized her refusal to go along with purchasing a truck for individual use.
In an attempt to further validate his case, Donald stated, “By the time you take out for buying a truck, and I’ve bought several in my 16 years, the maintenance on it, the gas and the insurance and you can’t get nothing back…” Dickerson interrupted, “You can get mileage,” she said. “We have not been getting it,” said Donald. “But you can, you can get it though,” Dickerson responded.
The motion was to advertise to take bids and not to go ahead with the purchase; that vote will take place once the bids have been received and opened. McWilliams said his board order would specify a specific number of trucks to be purchased, but state for the purchase of “one or more” trucks.