BERNALILLO — The Sandoval County Commission voted unanimously to authorize a loan for $3.6 million to finance new solid-waste vehicles, IT equipment and fleet vehicles at Thursday night’s meeting.

Although the vote went through unanimously, it wasn’t decided without inquiries from Vice Chairman Jay Block.

Block asked Sandoval County Director of Public Works Mark Hatzenbuhler questions regarding the amount of equipment the county owns and how it is determined that it needs to be replaced.

“How many vehicles do we have in Sandoval County right now?” Block asked.

Hatzenbuhler explained the county has 699 vehicles, including road graders and specialty fire rescue equipment. He hadn’t determined the average age of the county’s vehicles, but Hatzenbuhler said some were 20 years old.

“We have a 2003 (fleet vehicle) that has 185,000 miles on it, we have a 2004 that has 150,000 miles on it and we have one that has 250,000 miles on it,” he said.

Hatzenbuhler said his department looked at the age of each vehicle and its mileage to determine if it needed to be replaced.

“We are looking at moving some of the county’s vehicles around where they can be better utilized, and the rest we are looking into placing on, which is a state and federal contract for the distribution of surplus equipment,” he said.

Martin Aguilar, manager of maintenance on the county’s vehicles, said he has six mechanics working on equipment daily to try to keep them all moving.

“We do complete DOT (Department of Transportation) checks on every vehicle,” Aguilar said. “What we really need to address are the other issues like the assessor’s office, which has 15 vehicles.”

Aguilar said they use two or three of the vehicles, which allows the unused vehicles to deteriorate.

“Every month, I have to come out and put new batteries on those vehicles because they are not being used,” he said. “I don’t mind buying units for the county, but we have to utilize what we got.”

Aguilar explained that those vehicles were purchased with gross receipts tax revenue.

Block asked how the county could be more efficient with vehicles not being used.

“I mean, we have vehicles just sitting and not being used, which is a waste of taxpayer money,” he said. “How do you narrow that gap and eliminate this type of action?”

Aguilar replied that those vehicles need to be put back into the pool to be utilized.

“This has been a problem at the county since I started a year and half ago,” he said.

Block reiterated that the county is in a severe fiscal constraining year and the commission is looking at everything it can to help save money in every area.