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Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

First reading approved on purchase of new fire trucks


By William Kincaid
CELINA - City council members on Tuesday approved first reading of an ordinance to purchase two fire vehicles from Stuphen Fire Trucks of Dublin for $1.38 million.
At the special meeting, council members Mike Sovinski, Bill Sell, Myron Buxton, Jeff Larmore and Ed Jeffries all voted yes, while Angie King and June Scott voted no.
A second reading of the ordinance will be held Monday evening at city hall. Prior to the 7 p.m. meeting, a public forum, at the request of Buxton, will be held at 6 p.m.
If legislation is approved, the city would purchase a 2010 demonstration model aerial fire truck with a 100-foot ladder for $908,735 and a new pumper tanker for $463,967.34. The deal also includes a $7,200 allowance for structural changes that may be needed on the trucks.
Additionally, the city also plans to purchase $52,320 for equipment for both vehicles.
By purchasing the two trucks now instead of waiting until later in the year, the city would save $135,750.88, fire chief Doug Wolters said. New emission standards for engines and inflation are expected to increase costs, he said.
To finance the purchase, the city would authorize a four-year lease agreement with the principal amount not to exceed $1.08 million. The city will not know the interest rate until it is ready to close on the deal; Wolters expects it to be near 2.97 percent.
The total cost for both trucks, interest and equipment is $1.5 million.
The city would make an initial down payment of $300,000, which will come out of the general fund's fire department capital account. The equipment purchase also will come from that fund this year.
"This is a lease to purchase," city auditor Emily Stewart said about the deal.
Councilman Ed Jeffries asked, the reason why Wolters wanted to purchase a Stuphen pumper/tank when he was so "gung-ho" about getting one from Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, Wisc., for $525,189.
"Well, we had to look at the money to be honest with you," Wolters said.
He told Jeffries the agreement includes a discount for purchasing both vehicles.
"I'm not in favor to have this all in one ordinance," Buxton said about the two vehicles, even though he later voted yes.
"I've been on the fence," Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue said when asked her opinion by Buxton.
"I have too," he said.
LaRue said she supports the purchase after holding a work session Monday.
"I still am under the impression that possibly we are jumping a little fast," she said. "However, when you see what you can save."
City auditor Emily Stewart said the half percent income increase ultimately would pay for the purchases.
However, Stewart added that the $300,000 down payment would be needed a few days after the legislation passes.
"We do have it," she said. "I don't see a problem with a down payment."
"Are you comfortable with everything?" LaRue asked.
"Yes," Stewart said.
Wolters also said he would like to see a $150,000 grass truck purchased later in the year, with half of the money to be paid this year and the other half next year.
King suggested the city set aside money every year until it can pay for the trucks in cash instead of paying interest on the vehicles now. Just a few months ago the city was talking about possible layoffs, but now it's considering purchasing three trucks, she continued.
"I have a real problem with that," she said.
Police Chief Dave Slusser said he understands everybody's discomfort, but he asked officials to look at the other side of the coin: The trucks need replaced.
"Just don't forget the age of the fire trucks," he said. The three trucks that may be replaced are 27-34 years old.
Both Larmore and Jeffries also commented on the city's decision to use $300,000 from the fire fund last year to balance the budget.
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