by Jennifer Sierra
Bellevue Dayton Fireman, Brian Boyers was head of a task force for finding a new fire truck for the cities of Bellevue and Dayton, Kentucky. The cities share a fire department and fire board, which is made up of council members and citizens from both towns. In a fire board finance meeting prior to the regularly held fire board meeting on Wednesday evening, Boyers made a presentation asking the representatives of both cities to ask their city councils to approve the purchase of a new fire truck in the amount of $685,973.00. The annual cost per city for this purchase would be $55,842.75 for an 84-month loan.
The representatives from both cities were concerned with the cost but realized that there aren’t many other options because the 1993 fire truck that is currently in operation is outdated and costs an estimated $21,000.00 a year to maintain. The truck’s value is about $30,000.00. Boyers pointed out that they “can’t even buy fuel lines for the truck any longer” and “they have to be hand made now”. Because of service on the fire truck, the vehicle was out of commission 37 days this year. When asked about the option of purchasing a used truck, Boyers said, “Any department needing a new truck is doing what we are. They are looking for grants and trying to find funds to buy them new.” According to Boyers, the technology has changed so much on these trucks that they have to buy new or the used truck they buy will be outdated as soon as or soon after they get it.
The truck he found is in the “mid to low range” as far as fire trucks go. “Not a Ferrari, not a Pinto,” Boyers said. It is a Rosenbauer 78′ Viper-MP3 Aerial fire truck. It has a smaller chassis, allowing it to navigate the narrow city streets in Bellevue and Dayton. They were able to test drive the vehicle. It had a good turning radius and they confirmed that it would indeed navigate the streets well. The truck is engineered in Germany but built in the United States and parts are easy to come by. “You should be able to go down to KOI Auto Parts and pick up a headlight for it,” Boyers added.
Some disagreement came from Bellevue City Council member Matt Olliges and Dayton, Kentucky City Council Member Ben Baker regarding the time frame of the purchase and the interest rate going up if not purchased by January 1st. Olliges said, “We can speed this thing up with a special meeting. I am willing to have a special council meeting to save $13,000.00.” (That is the 2% increase that may happen on 1-1-16 if they haven’t signed a contract.) Baker said he wasn’t sure the salesman wasn’t just pressuring them to buy this year with the 2% rate hike. Boyers said those rate hikes are industry standard. “The same truck several years ago would have been much cheaper to buy,” Boyers stated.
During the fire board meeting after their finance meeting, the fire board gave the okay to let the firemen present their request to the city councils. The firemen are also required to put the truck specs out to a public bid for 30 days. Now the task is to see if the cities can afford to fund it and if the city councils will approve the request. If the truck doesn’t get approved before January 1, 2016, the price could go up 2%. Both cities are under financial stress currently. Bellevue has a pending lawsuit with the Harbor Greene developer and Dayton, Kentucky recently had their police cruisers updated and both cities funded the purchase of a new medic unit for the fire department.
What seems unfair is the fact that the same fire truck was purchased in Sabina, Ohio with hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants and that community had never had the truck out at a fire in the year that they owned it. The group discussed grants not being given out by the government based on need but by political prowess instead.
What happens to the old truck? The fire department will try to sell the truck and reuse any of the old tools they kept on the old on the new truck.