Island Transit officials to keep purchased tractor, gazebos

Officials at Island Transit formally decided to keep a tractor and two gazebos that were improperly purchased with grant money that had to be paid back to the federal government.

Oak Harbor Councilman Rick Almberg, chairman of the Island Transit board, was pushing to sell the Kubota tractor and brought up the issue again during the special meeting Monday. He was overruled, however, in a 3-2 vote.

Almberg argued that the tractor, which was purchased for $22,000 about three years ago, should be sold to recoup that money. He suggested that it could sell for a minimum of $15,000.

Island Transit employees said they use the tractor for snow removal at the transit facility’s parking lot, to move a large manhole cover and to complete other smaller tasks.

Over the past 90 days, the tractor was only used for 4.3 hours, according to Interim Director Ken Graska.

Graska said that it would be more cost effective to rent equipment when it’s needed rather than let the tractor depreciate.

However, Island County Commissioner Rick Hannold argued that the agency should just keep the piece of equipment since it’s paid for and rental equipment may not be available when it’s needed. He also said training staff to use rental equipment might be a complication.

Langley Councilman Bruce Allen, who replaced Jim Sundberg, said it wasn’t worth selling the tractor for just $15,000, pointing out that the agency’s annual budget is $12 million.

“It’s a penny compared to $12 million,” he said.

Almberg and Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson, who also sits on the transit board, countered that having cash is very valuable to the agency, which is still recovering from financial problems.

In the end, Almberg’s and Johnson’s were the only votes against a motion to keep the tractor.

In addition, the board members unanimously agreed to keep the two gazebos that became a symbol of wasteful spending following revelations about the agency’s financial problems, which were in part related to the new facility near Coupeville.