County assessor Rhonda Wylie stood before the county council on Wednesday to request appropriations to purchase a new car as well as new laptops for the assessor’s office.
Wylie has received quotes from the IT Department that approve the laptops she requested, and the council quickly approved those appropriations, but discussion about the specifics on the car was sparked.
Wylie acknowledged that the vehicle she is requesting is not another large car like the one the office had last year to get through boulders. The new car would be utilized to drive down alleyways and reach smaller areas.
The request for appropriations totals to $30,000 for the car, but Wylie ensured the council that the amount was the maximum the office was willing to spend for the vehicle with a warranty.
Wylie stated that the car may be new or used, but the price of cars are still upwards of the $30,000 maximum either way. She claimed that the office does not want to spend more than the maximum amount no matter what, so she assured the council that the office will not be requesting additional appropriations for the car in the future.
“As you can see, they’re not real cheap. Buying a used car is not real cheap either,” said Wylie. “The quotes are like one was twenty-two and one was twenty-five. That’s what was there a month ago when I got the quotes. Those cars aren’t even there anymore.”
Marion citizen Ryan Howell commented about the amount appropriated for the car, stating that cars are not as expensive as the county is claiming.
“I bought a used car for $13,000 with 23,000 miles on it about a year ago. Is this like a specialty car where it needs a whole bunch of other cosmetics because it’s taxpayer money,” said Howell. “I paid cash, $13,000, what we gotta pay $30,000 for a car for with taxpayer money?”
Council and Wylie confirmed that the new car will not have any cosmetics or specialty services. Howell claimed that buying a new engine, including the labor of installation, would be much cheaper than purchasing a used car for almost $30,000.
According to auditor Jim McWhirt and council President Shane Middlesworth, the commissioners will require the office to receive three different quotes for a new car. However, a used car does not require three quotes if it is assessed by the state according to Middlesworth. Regardless, McWhirt recommends the office still receive three quotes.
Wylie plans to trade the car the office already owns in to make up some of the difference unless another office would utilize the car instead. The last vehicle the office traded was valued at $2,500, and Wylie assures that the current car is in better shape than the last, meaning it will likely be valued higher. Wylie did not include the trade-in value in the proposal since its fate has not yet been determined.
While the make and model of the car has not yet been decided, Wylie acknowledged that her office has been notified that the car must be one of only a few colors.
“We’re not approving the actual cars that she’s purchasing. We’re just approving that she could use the reassessment fund up to $30,000 to purchase a car,” said Middlesworth. “It’ll be through the commissioners whether or not they hammer down the cost.”
Council approved the appropriations, but the purchase of the vehicle will still need approval from the commissioners who Wylie stated are already aware of the request.