"To tractor or not to tractor," that was the question during Fountain's September city council meeting, held last Thursday evening, as the members examined quotes from five different vendors and then considered the viability of continuing to operate the existing city truck.

Quotes were received from Marzolf Implement of Spring Valley, SEMA Equipment of Preston and Spring Valley, Hyland Motors of rural Spring Valley, and from Bobcat in Rochester. Councilors compared each, noting that the cost of a tractor - instead of a skid loader - starts out much higher than the city's annual $5,000 equipment replacement allotment budget can accommodate.

City clerk Ronda Flattum asked after learning that the existing loader the city wishes to trade would garner only an estimated $700, "Is it worth keeping the one we have rather than trading it?"

Mayor Richard Kujath inquired, "Is our tractor getting to be in bad shape? There's not a lot of hours on it."

The city has already set aside $27,600 toward the purchase of a new skid loader or tractor, and toward the end of discussion about a new tractor, the councilmen determined to invite three vendors to the October meeting.

However, they also received a bid for a new city truck - a new Ford with a gas engine at $42,540 plus $8,500 for a dump box or a new diesel Ford at $51,040 plus the dump box.

Kujath asked how the existing city truck is performing, and Councilor Bryan Ostby and Councilor Chad Wangen informed him that while it has only approximately 60,000 miles on it, it is rusting out and not doing well at all.

Councilor Jim Schott asked, "What if we got a truck instead of a skid loader?"

Kujath concurred, "If anything, if the truck were to break down, we'd be in worse shape."

Schott said, "We've definitely got to put the truck in front of the tractor."

Appropriating funds for a new truck meant that the city will place an additional $25,000 in its preliminary 2014 levy. The preliminary levy is due at the courthouse Sept. 15, so a decision to do so was imminent.

The water tower is also in need of washing and Flattum reported that simply washing it would cost $1,500. Painting was estimated at $18,000.

A vote to add $25,000 to the 2014 preliminary levy to help pay for a new city truck and $1,500 for washing the water tower passed.

Taste of the Trail

Rose Voight, of the Root River Trail Towns committee, spoke with the councilmen about details concerning the city's legal requirements for the in-progress "Taste of the Trail" Root River Trail celebration. The events will be continued in Fountain, Preston and Harmony the weekend of Sept. 24 after being held in Rushford, Houston, Lanesboro, Peterson and Whalan on the preceding weekends.

"We anticipate about 200 visitors, and we'll have what we call 'passports.' The businesses that are participating in the event will be listed on them, and there'll be maps on the back of the passports," she explained. "The visitors can have them marked at the businesses that are participating and then hand them in for prizes. We've had several businesses contribute, and our hope is to get people into town instead of just at the trail."

Police report

Fountain Police Chief Tom Mosher reported that August was somewhat eventful, with complaints about kids driving golf carts recklessly about town and a supposedly stolen manure pump that turned out to be simply lent out from a local business to a patron. Fountain's city maintenance foreman Dan Byer was bitten by a resident's dog while he was assisting with repairing a water meter. The owners of unlicensed dogs have been issued a citation and a court date. There was also a call for a juvenile welfare check. Mosher reported that there would be a "busy training schedule in September" coming up.

Zoning

Lastly, the council approved a zoning permit for Valley Design to expand its loading dock by constructing an 18' by 24' addition to the building, and also refused an offer of a refrigerator donation to the city's community center.