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EM village president expresses remorse for Northtown Ford $168 comments

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND —  Elk Mound Village President Andy Peterson cannot begin to say how sorry he is for his comments regarding the $168 additional charge for a police vehicle the village is purchasing from Northtown Ford in Menomonie.

When Elk Mound Police Chief Travis Hakes mentioned an additional $168 charge for the 2014 vehicle at the November 5 village board meeting, Peterson says he should have handled it differently.

The village board approved in August buying a new squad vehicle for the police department from Northtown Ford for $13,300 cash and $14,500 in trade for the existing squad truck.

Purchasing a new 2014 squad truck is advantageous for the village because the cab is different on the 2015 models, which means Elk Mound would be unable to transfer $4,000 worth of equipment to a new 2015 vehicle.

As it turns out, the additional $168 is for license and registration fees beyond the $13,300 purchase price.

Police Chief Hakes said that at the time of the November 5 meeting, he was unaware that the original proposal of $13,300 did not include the title fee or any other fees.

Peterson said he should have reviewed the paperwork himself before the meeting.

“I should have asked to review the contract but didn’t … I should have caught it by reviewing the paperwork,” Peterson said.

Police Chief Hakes noted that Northtown Ford had presented the low bid for the police squad pickup truck and that he greatly appreciated the dealership’s willingness to work with Elk Mound.

Those two factors — that Northtown Ford was the low bidder and the dealership has a 2014 model available that can use $4,000 worth of the village’s existing equipment — saved Elk Mound a significant amount of money, Police Chief Hakes said.

Elk Mound budgets $4,500 every year for a police vehicle, and the budget currently contains $18,000 to replace the vehicle.

“I want to apologize to the employees at Northtown Ford. (During the November 5 village board meeting), I lost my temper when the police chief mentioned that our amount due for the truck we were purchasing was higher than the amount the village board approved,” Peterson said.

The Elk Mound Village Board had approved the purchase on a “not to exceed” basis and approves virtually all purchases — well house repairs, public works utility vehicles, snowplowing equipment, street reconstruction projects, police squads —with motions that include “not to exceed.”

“I let my emotions get the best of me that night, and I shouldn’t have. I should have looked at the details and not let emotions take over,” Peterson said.

“Northtown Ford is a great place to work with. The service provided is excellent, and their ability to work with us on the purchase of a new truck for our police department is greatly appreciated,” he said.

“I ask that (Northtown Ford) accept my apology and ask that the residents in the area accept my apology for my poor behavior,” he said.

Peterson has served on the Elk Mound Village Board for more than a decade.

Police Chief Hakes also submitted a comment for this article:

“When I originally received the bid I was told it was valid for 30 days, and by the time we put the truck on the agenda and had the purchase approved, it was close to that threshold. During that meeting the board approved the ‘base price’ of the truck not to exceed $13,300. I contacted Eric Mickelson from Northtown Ford that evening and verified the next morning to ensure we ordered it immediately after the meeting. I was told the number might change slightly if the government rebates (for Village purchased vehicles) had changed. Once the truck was delivered, the bids for the upgraded lighting, transfer of equipment, and graphics needed to be approved; so it was again brought to a board meeting. During this time I contacted Eric Mickelson from Northtown Ford to solidify the ‘to the penny number’ in the event it changed. It was then I learned the number was $13,468.50. I was unaware at the time of the meeting (11/05/14) the original proposal of $13,300 did not include title fee, or any other state fees; thus the added $168.50.

“Eric Mickelson from Northtown Ford has done a lot for the Village on this deal. He received the truck, and is willing to let it sit until we can get all the equipment so we are not down without our own squad for an extended amount of time. He also took our trade when other dealerships would not, and to add to that, he gave us a fair value and let us keep our accessories. Northtown Ford’s original bid was the lowest I received from any Ford Dealership I contacted. These reasons are why I personally did not question the difference in the bid, because of all the things they have done to accommodate the Village during this purchase, I knew they were not out to ‘rake us over the coals.’

I personally would like to say that if the article from last week [published in the Colfax Messenger] reflected negatively upon Eric Mickelson and/or Northtown Ford it should not have. They have been great to work with and this deal would not have been possible with our budget without them to help make it happen. I would like to thank them for all their hard work on this project.”