It's really a catch-all tool. It's a multi tool."City Manager Daniel Hofman
GUYTON — If a ticker tape parade is conducted for the City of Guyton’s newest addition as was derisively suggested Tuesday night, at least it could dig its way out of the mess.
The Guyton City Council voted 3-1 to purchase a JCB Hydradig and three attachments at a state-contract cost of $189,766. A Hydradig is a unique wheeled excavator and tool carrier.
City Manager Daniel Hofman told council members that Interim Public Works Superintendent Jacob Ford cleared hundreds of yards of city ditches during a recent Hydradig test.
“It’s really a catch-all tool,” Hofman said. “It’s a multi tool.”
A Hydradig’s engine, tanks and ancillaries are attached to the chassis, making it more mobile and maneuverable than its competitors.
“You can drive this piece of equipment to the job and back to your building,” said Post 4 Councilman Michael Johnson, the most vocal Hydradig proponent.
Many audience members, shocked by the Hydradig’s cost, weren’t impressed.
One said after the vote, “Can I request a ticker tape parade for when that machine arrives?”
The snarky remark drew a few chuckles.
The City of Guyton will use the Hydradig to dig ditches and clear limbs and overgrowth along streets and power lines. A jackhammer, Bush Hog, concrete saw, lift and bucket can also be added to it. Guyton’s attachment lineup includes a bucket, a Bush Hog and a grapple.
A few audience members said a cheaper mini excavator would suit Guyton’s needs.
“A mini excavator is made for a construction site,” Hofman said. (A Hydradig) is made for the road.”
Hofman noted that the Hydradig doesn’t require streets to be blocked while it is in use.
“No other wheeled excavator can do that,” he said. “It has the engine underneath it to stabilize the vehicle. It is made for small roads like Guyton.”
Post 2 Councilman Dr. Franklin Goldwire expressed support for the Hydradig before the vote.
“... That machine cleared more ditches in a few hours than I’ve seen cleaned in the last four or five years and we’ve been talking about this forever,” he said. “It’s about time to do something about it.”
SPLOST funds will be used for the purchase, which will also involve the trade-in of some old equipment.
“Personally, I would like to have seen a comparable — no, it won’t be a Hydradig, but a comparably equipped — mini excavator, especially when you can get one for half as much as this particular piece of equipment,” Mayor Jeff Lariscy said. “I understand that it is unique. I understand that it works well on the roads.
“But also understand that there are competing interests for those SPLOST funds in the form of — if we can get a grant, there are matching funds required. If we spend all our SPLOST dollars on a Hydradig and we get a grant, where are we going to find those matching funds?”
The mayor pushed once more for a mini excavator test to no avail.
“I think (the Hydradig is) a wonderful piece of equipment — I do — but you are going to have to run it all the time for it to pay for itself,” he said.
During a recent city council meeting, a JCB representative acknowledged that Macon is the closest city that owns a Hydradig.
“I’d love to see a collaborative purchase of such a fine piece of equipment with another municipality or something but ....,” Lariscy said.
Following the vote, a Hydradig opponent in the audience said,” Congratulations, Mr. Johnson.”
In other action:
— The council approved to pay Hofman $12,835 for wages he lost after being terminated by the mayor in June. He was out 12 weeks before being reinstated following an appeal to the rest of the council.
Hofman also sought to have his attorney fees paid by the city. City Attorney Ray Smith said that is forbidden per state law.
— Approved paying Hofman for his unused vacation time.
— Accepted taking on the responsibility of the infrastructure of Mossy Hollow subdivision, including roads, drainage, water and sewer
— Listened to Johnson’s recommendation to purchase tablets for council members.
— Approved the purchase of a tapping machine for $1,285 to replace one that was stolen
— Named Crisa Court employee of the month
NOTE: Post 1 Councilman Steve Collins was absent due to a family illness.