- Mike Rutledge Staff Writer
City Council Member Dan Picard is tired of seeing Middletown city government purchase four-wheel drive vehicles that he doesn’t consider necessary. But not so tired of it earlier this month that he voted against one such purchase.
When the item was raised for the purchase of a Ford four-door Explorer for Middletown Municipal Court from Lebanon Ford at a cost of $26,739, through a state cooperative purchasing program, Picard raised his objection.
“I’ve been on council, this is my eighth year,” Picard said. “And during the previous seven years, we’ve approved purchases of four-wheel-drive vehicles for the fire department, the police department, the engineering department. And the bailiffs already have one, and this will be their second.”
Despite concerns in the past, “I’ve always voted yes,” he said. “But, given the 2017, our tight financial situation and hiring freeze in place, I am very concerned about this purchase. I have to admit, I’m surprised how low the purchase price is, but I still have questions as to whether or not … this is needed.”
“I’ve always been concerned about and I’m just expressing my concern for these purchases, and I guess, basically letting city employees, department heads and whatever know that in the future, I probably will vote no when purchasing four-wheel-drive vehicles.”
Picard then abstained from the vote. Vice Mayor Dora Bronston and Council Member Talbott Moon voted yes. Council Member Steve Bohannon voted no. And Mayor Larry Mulligan was absent, leaving a vote of 2-1 in favor, with Picard’s abstention.
At that point, City Manager Doug Adkins said he will always obey council’s vote, “But I will let you know that the court has the ability to do almost anything they want to anyway…. This is almost a polite approval of what they’re allowed to do on their own anyway.”
City Clerk Amy Schenck told Adkins that with the 2-1 vote, “and an abstention always goes with the yeses,” so the matter approved it.
“Then I appreciate that,” Adkins said. “I apologize. I misunderstood.”