The Haines Borough Assembly on Feb. 8 authorized the purchase of a lawn tractor from Bigfoot Auto Service for a cost not to exceed $17,985. It replaces a riding lawn mower.
The borough also received a bid of $18,545 from Craig Taylor Equipment of Anchorage.
"How big is this thing?" asked assembly member Scott Rossman. "I didn’t know you could spend that much money on a lawn tractor."
Borough manager Mark Earnest said $15,000 for the John Deere X729 lawn tractor with a 54-inch mower deck had been part of the fiscal year 2008 capital improvement projects budget, and one reason he wanted to move forward with a purchase now is because borough leaders are "really making a concerted effort to beautify the community."
"In addition to mowing ball fields, we would be able to use the snow blower attachments for areas that can’t really be accessed by large equipment; we could get into some confined areas," Earnest said. "The broom can be used for sweeping parking lots … trails, pathways. It’s a multi-use piece of equipment."
He said staff members have been looking through budgets from the past several years to see what has yet to be funded.
"We’re going back and identifying (projects) that still have a public purpose and need, and we’re getting caught up on some of the backlog there," Earnest said.
Borough facilities director Brad Maynard said the lawn tractor would be much more durable than current borough equipment. He said the borough also had some money left over from a recent plow truck purchase to go toward the purchase.
"For mowing around the parks and the graveyard, 99 percent of the mowing in town is done with a cheap, little riding lawn mower that can’t do a lot of places this new one will do," Maynard said. "I think they bought it two or three years ago, but it’s one of those $600 lawn mowers; my understanding is they have to replace them pretty often."
He said the borough might share machine attachments with the Haines Borough School District.
"The school bought the exact same mower," Maynard said. "They use it in the winter for pushing snow and they have a broom attachment for it, and so I think what we’ll do is we’ll see if we can partner up with them, so if we want to use their snow blower or their broom or their fertilizer spreader, we’ll do that. There’s no point in having three attachments in the same town that you only use a week or two out of the year."
The tractor should be available in April. "It will definitely start making the town look better," Maynard said. "… If you buy good stuff and you can do a lot of work with it, it pays for itself."