Meeker County buys track loader from Dassel dealer

January 21, 2008

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The Meeker County Board of Commissioners bought a T300 Bobcat compact track loader Tuesday from Farm-Rite Equipment Inc. of Dassel for the low quote, $45,413 plus sales tax.

Tim Cox, owner of the Dassel company, predicted correctly Jan. 8 that the Bobcat unit would best fit the county’s specifications, even if the quotations were based on the State of Minnesota Contract.

A compact track loader is a skid loader with tracks instead of wheels. The prices for it and other highway equipment are already negotiated in the State of Minnesota Contract.

The other two quotes were for a New Holland C190 from Carlson Tractor & Equipment of Rosemount, and a CT332 John Deere from John Deere Construction Sales of Moline, Ill.

The New Holland unit was 82.4 inches in width, too wide to fit on the county’s skid load trailer. County Engineer Ron Mortensen got an estimate from RDO of St. Cloud to replace the trailer for $4,399, he said. With the track loader, the price would have totaled $45,761.

The John Deere would have cost a total of $54,005, and it didn’t include the advance control system the county needed, according to the information Mortensen provided for the board.

In December, Mortensen investigated prices for the unit from Meeker County businesses. In addition to the quote from Farm-Rite, Schlauderaff Equipment and Haug Implement, both of Litchfield, quoted lower prices for the same units as Carlson Tractor and the John Deere in Illinois in the state’s already negotiated contract.

Commissioner Jim Swenson said Jan. 8 he preferred buying the track loader from a local business, than from a dealer in Duluth, for example.

However, County Attorney Stephanie Beckman advised the board Jan. 8 that if it wasn’t going to abide by the state’s contract, it must reject all the quotes, and open the bidding to everyone, not just county dealers.

The board decided to reject all the local quotes, and go with the state’s contract.

In other highway department business, the board gave Mortensen permission to get quotes for a tree and brush cutter, estimated to cost between $23,000 and $25,000. It’s a skid loader attachment that chews vegetation into mulch. It can handle tree trunks with 6-inch diameters. Usually, mowers and other cutters leave stringy stuff behind that workers have to go back and clean up, Mortensen said.

The cutter can go places mowers and chainsaws can’t, and is preferable to using chemical sprays near a lake, for example, he added.

A cutter is not the same as a chipper, which the county highway department uses every day, to chip up overhead branches.

In addition, the board gave County Administrator Paul Virnig permission to advertise for bids for the Bernie Aaker Auditorium renovation project. The project is a joint effort by the county, Litchfield School District and City of Litchfield, and is estimated to cost $1.5 million.