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Bethel Township supervisors and residents clash over payloader

Bethel Township residents and supervisors clashed Monday at another supervisors meeting over disagreements about who is responsible for a financial loss after Bethel’s unauthorized leasing of a new payloader.

Buying a new loader was first suggested at a June meeting by Supervisor Mike Graby, who said the township’s machine was broken and needed $39,000 in repairs, officials said.

After a discussion with residents, Supervisors Jake Meyer and Robbi Lane instead voted to seek two more quotes for the repairs and buy a new loader only if the additional quotes exceeded the original repair price of $39,000.

The issue came up again in July, after supervisors failed to produce the two additional quotes. Residents and supervisors again agreed to look for more quotes, and the purchase of a new loader was voted down for a second time.

Supervisors obtained the quotes in August, after a diagnostic test on the loader by mechanics came back showing the broken loader only needed about $2,100 in repairs.

A contract for those repairs was awarded at the August meeting to D & D Equipment Repair Inc., Palmyra, Lebanon County.

At Monday’s meeting, residents said a right-to-know request revealed that in June a rental contract for a loader was made by the township with Plasterer Equipment Co. Inc., Lebanon, for $23,120.

That loader was delivered in June and returned months later after the township’s original loader was fixed.

Meyer said he didn’t know who authorized the leasing of the loader and that supervisors never voted on the lease.

Township Secretary Jayne Seifrit said officials were unaware how many hours the leased loader was used by the township.

Several residents argued that supervisors dragging their feet on finding quotes for the loader resulted in the township having to pay for the rental when repairs could’ve been performed months earlier.

Resident Steve Burkhart said supervisors were given quotes by an independent mechanic in July that were never acted on by supervisors, and that the repairs could’ve been performed as soon as two weeks after the original loader malfunction.

“After more research and after I talked to professionals, more quotes were brought in and we fixed it,” Lane said. “It’s done. We took care of it. We have a working piece of equipment and the (leased) loader is gone.”

Past public accusations were that supervisors used the situation to benefit mechanics they knew were also addressed by Meyer.

“What should’ve happened is the mechanics should’ve come out and gone over the machine together, and we would’ve been able to make a decision pending the outcome of that discussion,” Meyer said, “but this tearing down of mechanics, to me it’s sickening.”

Meyer said he got the $2,100 quote from a mechanic he was unfamiliar with that was recommended by a resident.

Residents also noted the loader malfunctioned again in October. This time, emergency repairs were authorized without a supervisors’ vote, costing about $4,500, according to Meyer.

Those repairs were performed last week, Meyer said.

“Even in the context of that, it’s still minor, especially if you’re looking at $39,000 for the initial quote,” Meyer said. “We have a machine that’s as good as new, and we spent less than $7,000 (on repairs) ultimately.”

There were no other comments about the payloader rental matter.

Source: Berkshire mont

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