CALIFORNIA CITY — California City had to make an adjustment on an order for two pickups at its meeting Feb. 9 after the selected vendor reported it was out of inventory.

Public Works Director Joe Barragan reported that two Ford pickups with utility beds would need to instead purchased from Jim Charlon Ford in Ridgecrest after Ford Auto Nation reported it had run out.

The council had previously approved the purchase of a pair of 2021 Ford F-350s at a cost of $89,219 to be paid for through the water department. The previous city council had approved the purchase for the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget.

The next lowest bid Jim Burke Ford also lacked inventory, leaving Jim Charlon Ford as the only option, bringing the total cost up to $93,995. Barragan added that because of the additional cost, one of the trucks purchased will be a F-250 to stay under budget.

Councilmember Karen Macedonio asked whether the F-250 would diminish the water department’s ability to get the job done.

Baragan said the main difference between the F-250 and F-350 was towing capacity.  An F-350 can pull more things and handle weight loads better.

“We are at least getting one. I know the employee who is supposed to get the F-350, he was real adamant about needing one because he’ll tow a lot of pumps, carry a lot of pumps when we have to replace pumps for our system,” Barragan said. “He desperately needed a 350.”

He added the other employee getting a vehicle was content to be assigned an F-250 to keep the purchase within budget.

Macedonio deferred to Mayor Jeanie O’Laughlin after noting whether the change in vehicles “would be a wise use of funds.”

O’Laughlin, who voted against the purchase at the Jan. 26 meeting, continued her opposition in purchasing new vehicles.

“We don’t need brand new trucks,” O’Laughlin said. “When was the last time Public Works bought new trucks?”

Barragan said Public Works likely never did.

“That’s been one of our biggest issues,” Barragan said. 

O’Laughlin continued to point out the used ones purchased from government surplus auctions “have lasted for many years.” 

“I just have an issue spending $95,000 on two vehicles when we could purchase government surplus,” O’Laughlin said. 

Councilmember Jim Creighton supported the new vehicle purchases, arguing maintenance costs would be significantly lower. He noted the trucks purchased at surplus auctions required a significant amount of work over the years.

“I look at the check register for the garage and it’s quite lengthy all the time,” Creighton said. “I probably bet that a lot of those vehicles belong to the water department.”

Creighton also asked whether the trucks will be guaranteed by Jim Charlon Ford. Barragan confirmed they would providing the purchase was approved.

Another issue Creighton brought up was past bids from Barragan included only Ford vehicles.

“Why aren’t we looking at Dodge or Chevy?” he asked. “If you look at it, Dodge has better towing ability in its class.”

Barragan said the decision was based largely on research conducted by the employees who use the vehicles. He added for the price, Ford did the job for what Public Works needs done.

“These vehicles are going to be high use, long use so we think Ford is better,” Barragan said.

The council approved the purchase in a 4-1 vote, with O’Laughlin voting no.

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