Covington City Councilman Josh McKelvey was disappointed Tuesday night after Mayor Ronnie Johnston attempted to clarify action taken by the council at its previous meeting.
In the Covington City Council’s Oct. 17 meeting, the council unanimously approved the purchase of a crew cab pickup truck, converted to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) from Covington Ford for $38,704. Councilmember Chris Smith made the motion for the purchase.
Johnston said he realized, after the motion and unanimous decision was made, the council might not have realized what it was voting for.
The other option the council could have selected was to purchase a CNG-prepped vehicle from Covington Ford for $28,787 and install the CNG equipment at a later date at a cost of $5,000-$7,000.
Smith said he was aware of the motion he was making and purposefully selected the CNG-equipped vehicle.
“I absolutely just feel like if we don’t get already CNG it might be years down the road before it’s done,” he said. “It wasn’t worth it to me for a couple thousand dollars to not get a factory inspected warranty truck.”
Johnston said the only reason he brought the discussion up during Tuesday’s work session was because he didn’t initially understand the decision that was made.
McKelvey said he thought the decision was a routine motion so he was already looking ahead to the next agenda item and he was unaware that a more expensive truck was being approved when he voted.
Covington City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said the reason the less expensive truck was being asked for was to save money. She said the cost of gas is so low right now the city does not see a large amount of savings by using CNG.
CNG vehicles also require specialized training in order to perform repairs.
“We have a CNG vehicle right now that is broken down, that will not work” she said. “Our guys did everything they knew to do on it, because they’re trained to work on CNG vehicles. We took it to Ginn, who is the only shop in town who can work on CNG vehicles and they can’t work on them anymore so now that truck is going to have to go out of town, out of state, in order to be fixed because nobody in the area works on CNG vehicles anymore.”
Smith noted the lower cost per gallon to fuel CNG vehicles and wanted to save the city money over the entire lifetime of the vehicle.
“Why didn’t you bring that up when we voted because I feel like you were trying to hide something,” McKelvey said.
Johnston asked Knight to delay ordering the vehicle until he was able to clarify the decision with the council Tuesday.
McKelvey said he was upset because he was not paying attention to the motion that was made.
“If anybody’s at fault here, it’s us (the council),” Johnston said.
“I thought it was routine motion, I didn’t know the staff had other plans,” McKelvey said. “After the amount came out after the motion had passed, I thought ‘Wait a minute, that’s not what is in our notes,’ but I didn’t think anything of it because I thought maybe somebody else knows something I don’t.
McKelvely said he felt as if Smith tried to deceive the council.
The council is set to meet again Monday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. for its regularly scheduled meeting.