County engineer begins work Aug. 1Jacob Hotchkiss will be paid $93,500
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Jacob Hotchkiss will begin work as Henry County engineer on Aug. 1.
Thursday morning, the Henry County Board of Supervisors approved a contract with Hotchkiss, who is currently the assistant engineer for Washington County.
The contract sets his salary at $93,500, which is the same salary that former County Engineer Bill Belzer would have earned this fiscal year, noted County Auditor Shelly Barber.
Hotchkiss has 10 years of experience as the assistant engineer in Washington County. Belzer, whose last day in Henry County was May 31, had a total of 17 years of experience as a county engineer, 12 years in Henry County and five years in Clinton County.
Supervisor Vice Chairman Marc Lindeen commented that Hotchkiss’ resume stood out among the applicants for the position.
“I think we’ve offered a contract to an outstanding gentleman,” said Lindeen.
However, he commented that he was worried the county was setting a precedent by hiring a department head who does not live in the county.
According to County Auditor Shelly Barber, Hotchkiss recently built a new home on his family’s farm, four miles north of the Henry County line.
While Hotchkiss will not be the only Henry County employee to live outside of the county, he will be the only department head to do so.
“We have a lot of county employees who do not live in the county, but no department heads,” said Barber.
On the other hand, Lindeen pointed out that there are other county engineers across the state who do not live in the county they work for, and there are some counties that share engineers, so the situation is not that unusual.
In other business Thursday morning, the supervisors held a bid letting for fuel bids.
Interim County Engineer Clarence Perry explained that the fuel purchased is for more than just the secondary roads department, as it also goes to the school district, city, sheriff’s department, hospital, courthouse and emergency management department.
“If someone from the school comes, they use their cards, put their pin in and it’s charged to them,” said Perry, noting that the other entities are also charged a small management fee.
The Department of Transportation has a base price for fuel, which is changed weekly, noted Perry. Fuel is bid on a margin basis, and for each gallon of fuel, this margin is added onto the cost of the fuel set by the state.
The county received two bids for fuel this year, Agriland FS of Washington and TNL Pep Gas of Mt. Pleasant. Each bid had three divisions, one for each type of fuel the county uses.
Agriland FS was the apparent low bidder with a margin of .0448. This translates into costs of $152,500.40 for 52,000 gallons of gasohol, $35,927.10 for 11,000 gallons of Ultra LS #1 diesel and $388,937.50 for 125,000 gallons of Ultra LS #2 diesel — a grand total of $577,365.
TNL Pep Gas bid a margin of .058. This translates into costs of $153,186.80 for 52,000 gallons of gasohol, $36,072.30 for 11,000 gallons of Ultra LS #1 diesel and $390,587.50 for 125,000 gallons of Ultra LS #2 diesel — a grand total of $579,846.60
“Pretty close bidding, actually,” said Perry.
With less than $2,500 between the two bids, Lindeen noted that the cost of the additives — a year-round lubricant to help the engine run better and a winter additive to prevent the fuel from gelling — may come into play.
“It makes a difference,” said Lindeen.
Jelen McCall, office manager for the secondary road department, said that additive price is not usually considered when awarding the fuel bid. Rather, it is included in the bids so that it is a set price that will not fluctuate.
Agriland bid .065 per gallon for the premium additive that is added year-round and .05 per gallon for the winter additive. TNL Pep Gas bid .038 per gallon for both the year-round and winter additives.
The supervisors plan to award the fuel contract during their meeting on July 23, allowing the engineer time to review the bids.
The supervisors also set the county’s mileage rate at 55 cents for fiscal year 2014.