The Belmond City Council authorized a variety of spending Dec. 21.

   It approved two four-year leases for medical equipment at the local hospital. The request came from the hospital board of trustees, but needed a final okay from the council. The new surgical equipment will cost just over $490,000. The payments will be covered by billings to patients.

   The council approved buying a new mini-excavator and trailer for the pub- lic works department at a cost just over $66,000. “The current backhoe is 30 years old and is on its last leg,” said Carlyle.

   “This smaller machine will fit better in the ceme- tery to dig graves, and it will make us more self sufficient,” said Public Works Director Justin Fournier. “We won’t have to hire out so much work to private contractors.”

   The city will keep the old backhoe for now, with the idea of trading it in on a skid steer loader next year.

   The council also approved spending $4,200 on new software for City Hall that will allow citizens to look up and pay their monthly water and sewer bills online. “We get requests for this all the time,” said Carlyle. “People want to get their bills by email, and pay their bills online using a debit or credit card.”

   Money for the two purchases will come from the city’s equipment replace- ment fund and Local Option Sales Taxes. The city took in over $132,000 in LOST during the last fiscal year.