The city has struggled for several weeks on what to do about
replacing an antiquated and worn-out pumper truck.
that there is a need for a new, or at least different firefighting
vehicle. But, the real challenge has been figuring out how to pay
for one and finding one that council members feel comfortable
obligating themselves to.
Last week, the item was on the agenda, came to a vote and was
A couple of reasons were given for the negative response. To
start, the city had not heard from CEFCU on an interest rate for a
loan. Other local lending agencies had offered a rate, but CEFCU's
was still pending.
Another reason for the opposition was in the prospect of giving
the fire chief authority to spend approximately $370,000 for a
vehicle that the council knew very little about.
Another question that came up was whether the city could purchase
something used and much cheaper and get by for a few more years
without going into deep debt. A used vehicle only a few years newer
than the one the city now owns had been located in Springfield.
Alderwoman Marty Neitzel had seen the truck and thought that from
the outside at least, it looked good. She urged the chief to go and
see the truck for himself, and he promised that he would.
Tuesday evening at the invitation of fire committee chair Kathy
Horn, Chief Mark Miller addressed some of the questions that caused
last week's vote to fail.
He said he had heard from CEFCU that they were not going to be
able to offer the city a loan for the fire truck. Miller said that
CEFCU is currently not making loans to municipalities.
Miller said that left the best quote from last week, which
included borrowing $100,000 at 2.92 percent interest on a 10-year
note with payments made annually.
He is also preparing a grant application for federal funds in the
amount of $150,000 with a 5 percent match requirement. He said if
the city should win that grant, the money could be applied to the
purchase of the vehicle after the fact.
In regard to the new truck that is available for purchase, Miller
said he had obtained the written specifications and drawings of the
truck for aldermen to review. He said that when the process of
searching for a truck had begun, three vehicles were available, but
two have since sold.
However, the truck that was the department's first choice is
still available. Miller said it would remain so through the weekend
because as a stock or demo vehicle, it has been loaned to the
Daytona Speedway for use at a car race on Sunday.
Miller said he had talked to the dealer in possession of the
vehicle, and the dealer will pay for Miller and a member of his
selection committee to fly to the vehicle and inspect it personally.
He also said that he had talked to the dealer about signing a
contract to hold the vehicle. He had been told he could sign a
contract, and if something happened that the city couldn't go ahead
with the purchase, it would be held harmless in getting out of the
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Miller reported he had visited the surplus warehouse in
Springfield and looked at the 1993 model Neitzel had seen. He said
the truck had an aluminum body and did look good, but on closer
inspection he had found some problems.
He had found motor leaks and said there was an issue with the
electrical system. In addition, the steel frame was showing a lot of
rust and wear. He told the council the vehicle could be purchased
for $12,000, but it was going to take a lot of dollars to bring the
truck up to snuff.
During discussion Tom O'Donohue asked how much money would be
left in the bond balance if the city used $268,000 from the general
obligation bond in this purchase. Mayor Keith Snyder said it would
leave $168,000, which would have to last the city through December
Neitzel wondered if the city should use an even $300,000 out of
the bond and finance a smaller amount. She said that would still
leave $144,000 in the bond.
David Wilmert recalled, though, that finance chair Melody
Anderson, who was absent for the evening, had previously said she
did not want to drain too much out of the bond. He was hesitant to
make that kind of decision without the finance chair present.
Treasurer Chuck Conzo also weighed in, saying that the more the
city pays outright, the better off they will be. However, he
understood the need to keep some funds in the general obligation
bond. He also said he would like to see the city go for a five-year
note instead of 10 and get it paid off more quickly.
Jeff Hoinacki noted that just because the city signs a certain
note doesn't mean they can't pay it down quicker if funding allows.
"We can always throw more money at it," he said.
When discussion was finished, Horn said she wanted to put a new
motion on the agenda for the emergency purchase of a pumper truck.
That motion will be on tonight's agenda and may be voted on. Or,
if the council so chooses, the item could be tabled to a later date.
[By NILA SMITH]
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