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Engineer presents his numbers, but waves off steak dinner

Closing the Verndale garage saves Wadena County more than it costs to have a worker and equipment travel to Staples, according to Highway Engineer Joel Ulring.

Ulring's report, which Commissioner Rodney Bounds requested at the previous county board meeting, detailed a net savings of $1,166.65.

Ulring didn't fix the numbers to come out the way they did, he said.

"I'm not that hungry for my steak dinner," he said.

When the issues was first addressed in February Bounds promised to buy Ulring a steak dinner if he could show how the county saved money by closing the shop.

Commissioner Ralph Miller and Bounds have both questioned last year's board decision to move the snow plowing equipment to Staples. They have also criticized Ulring's previous calculations.

In his most recent report Ulring included one and a half pages of explanation for his numbers. The summary stated expenses of $2,303.20 for employee travel time to Staples, $2,400 for the Staples garage lease and $2,604.75 for grader travel totaling $7,307.95. It showed a savings of $3,296.56 for employee travel from Verndale to Wadena, $3,500 for energy usage in the Verndale shop, $483.76 for facility upkeep and maintenance in the Verndale shop and $1,194.28 for plow truck travel totaling $8,474.60.

"That's where the numbers come out," Ulring said.

Bounds remained incredulous about the savings, but said the board didn't have time to discuss the issue right away. He wanted to study the report and revisit the issue at another meeting, he said.

"Because I'm going to tear this apart when I get into it," Bounds said.

Ulring said he bet Bounds would.

"Have fun with it," he said.

Chairman Dave Schermerhorn set follow-up discussion for the April 7 board meeting.