The Belmond City council discussed two important decisions Monday night, but took no action on either one, in part, because only three of the five council members were present.

  Council Members Alan Mattison, Kyle Tulp and Katie Schlichting were present. Jon Swenson and Ken Jenkins were absent.

  Public Works Director Justin Fournier presented a plan to buy a new Caterpillar 930 front end loader plus a snowblower that would be used to move snow in the downtown area. For many years the city has hired either private loaders or snowblowers to fill dump trucks and haul snow away. But due to a change in contractors, that method is likely going to change. The plan is to have a public works employee run the snowblower, and KR Construction haul the white stuff away.

  Fournier said Ziegler Caterpillar has a loader that was ordered for another customer, but the customer decided not to buy it. So the machine is available now. Lately, it can take from 12 to 18 months to get a new machine. The loader has a price of $211,333, less $44,000 for the city’s trade-in of a similar 2005 model.

  Fournier said the city’s current loader can’t handle a snowblower because of the way the transmission and hydraulics are set up. “If we tried to run a snowblower with the current machine, we’d be replacing the transmission all the time.”

  But the $167,333 expense for a new machine is not in the current budget, and City Clerk Cheryl Gardner could not immediately tell the council how much local option sales tax might be available for the purchase.

  “Before you buy this, you really need to know how much local option money you have to see if you can afford it,” City Attorney Gary Berkland told the council.

  “And I think we need all five council members here before we spend this much money,” said Councilman Alan Mattison.

  The danger is that the machine might be sold to another customer in the two weeks before the next council meeting. If that happens, the city will have to figure out another way to get snow moved this winter.

  Mayor Frank Beminio urged the council to act right away while the new machine was available. But no one would make a motion to buy it. So the matter will come up again at the Aug. 1 meeting.

   In other business....   read the entire story in the Belmond Independent.