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Bellevue city council debates funding for new fire truck

by Jennifer Sierra

IMG_4688The Bellevue Dayton firemen presented the same presentation that was presented to Dayton, Kentucky’s city council to the Bellevue City Council with the hope they would begin to move forward with the required bidding process for acquiring a new fire truck. Fireman, Brian Boyers reiterated the sales representative’s statement that the quote for the same truck would go up 7% on January 1st. He also stated that the new truck would come with a 5-year warranty.

Council Member and Fire Board Member, Steve Guidugli said, “Just to add, there is a lot of equipment needs in the fire department. This is just one of the major purchases. We are going to need a pumper, by the time this is paid for, the medic unit is going to be on its last leg. This is an ongoing expense. For whatever reason there has never been enough money asked to be put into capital and that is why we are where we are now. This isn’t going to go away. It is going to be an ongoing thing. We replace fire trucks, we replace dump trucks we replace police cruisers this is no difference just the cost of this is much greater. We sit back and when we don’t take the 5% (tax increase) now we need a new truck. That is why I voted for the budgets I voted for so we can fund the proper equipment for our life safety departments to do the job.”

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Council Member Ryan Salzman asked the fire chief how often the truck was deployed and needed, specifically how many structures were lost because the truck was out of service and would the fire department be able to get rid of one pumper with the purchase of the new truck.

There were 9 structure fires in Dayton and Bellevue in 2015 up to October. The chief said, “We have had numerous rescues in the 23 years with that truck. People probably wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have a ladder truck. To put up a 35 foot ladder is going to take 3 or 4 people to get to a third floor. With this truck it takes one person.” Chief Auteri went on to explain that since the last truck was purchased, the technology has changed in the way the trucks are designed and they are now making smaller trucks that are able to go through small, city streets better than the older trucks were. The Chief went on to say that you could get rid of one of the pumpers but you would always want a backup truck.

In December of 2014, the chief was asked for his “wish list” for the next 5 years in order of highest need and priority. Chief Auteri said that he “thinks the existing fire truck can be used and maintained for another 5 years, he thinks the aging ladder truck will have to be replaced within the next five to ten years to safely protect our cities.” Chief Auteri also stated his first goal is to hire 3 more men in 2015 and 3 more in 2016. Councilmen Salzman wanted to know the reasoning for bumping up the need so quickly from the chief’s previous 5-year estimate. Brian Boyers and Fireman Jim Richmond chimed in stating the need was based on the fact they have parts custom made for the truck and more the repairs are causing more down time for the truck. The chief said that the ladder truck the city had when he came in was 30 years old but parts where still available for it when it needed repairs. “Looking at all the receipts from the person that fixes our truck, we had to do something. It is just getting so expensive. Or we are just going to have to take it out of service and the citizens won’t have a ladder truck. That is what it is getting ready to come down to. We will then depend on Newport and Fort Thomas to get here if they are in service.

Councilmen Slater asked the Chief if they had tried to find something one or two years old and Chief Auteri replied, “We looked at a lot of things but what we are looking for is something so small to get down our streets, something that is safe. All our trucks now, we don’t have seat belts or lap belts they are so old. They weren’t crash tested.”

Councilman Matt Olliges, also a fire board member said, “I think it is in the tax payers best interest to get it done by January. I don’t want to gamble on $13,000.00 or $50,000.00.”

The council voted unanimously to move forward with the bidding process for the fire truck. This does not mean they have approved the purchase of the truck.

Councilman Salzman said, “This is what the 4% increase is for. It is for unexpected expenses. I hope we find out it is not that expensive because quite frankly, this is quite rushed and hurried on our end and it is not very comfortable to approve that kind of spending. To know that there are those funds available to us makes me comfortable moving forward. It is with that in mind I voted in favor of it and for the budget.

Councilman Slater, who voted against the tax increase that was implemented on Bellevue this year stated, “Had it been a 4 percent increase to buy a fire truck, I would have had no problem.”

“Keep in mind that we could easily be back in this situation again. The Interlocal Agreement still reads that we will only do what Dayton does and Dayton will only do what we do as far as pledging financial dollars so when you go to the voting booth make sure the folks you are voting for are going to have these types of interests at the forefront of their mind, ” Council Member Matt Olliges said.

City Manager Ketih Spoelker informed the council that the 1986 bucket truck the city has needs to be replaced and they have found an alternative for $14,500.00 which can be found in the capital budget with the sale of some surplus vehicles. They are purchasing the truck from Art’s Rental and Mayor Riehl helped with the negotiation of the purchase, getting the price down from $20,000.00 to $14,500.00.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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