The Red Hook Fire Department wants to buy a new pumper truck, and with only two bids to choose from, they picked the higher one: $12,000 higher.
At a public hearing at the firehouse June 3, members of the fire department’s board of directors discussed the truck they want: its cost, the financing involved and their justification for choosing the more expensive truck.
Board chair Jim Mulvey, along with board members Dan Streib, Robert Frey and Shawn Ball explained their reasoning, though only Red Hook Village Mayor Ed Blundell and one member of the public were present.
“The impetus behind this is that the truck is at the end of its useful life,” Mulvey said. “In the last couple of years we’ve spent $23,000 on repairs.” According to Mulvey, the truck was purchased in 1993, and after 22 years of service, now requires constant repair.
The two truck companies that made bids are the Sutphen Corporation of Monticello and Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, Wisconsin.
Ball, as head of the “truck committee,” said he presided over a year and a half of meetings that culminated in the decision to pick the Sutphen “Monarch” truck over the Pierce “Velocity” truck. On Jan. 28, the committee voted 4-2 in favor of the Sutphen truck even though it is $12,000, or 2 percent, more expensive. The Sutphen truck costs $577,797 and the Pierce truck is $565,731.
“We’re going to build a fire engine to our own specifications,” said Ball. “We went with the higher bid because the Sutphen is a higher quality truck.”
The fire department’s current trucks are made by Pierce but, according to Streib, the newer ones have been problematic in terms of servicing and electronics. For instance, Streib said the department’s 2001 ladder truck had electronic issues that caused the ladder to malfunction, almost crushing the truck and the cab. “If the operators hadn’t been paying attention, you’re looking at a $30,000 repair bill for the cab,” he said.
The new truck will be financed through Bank of Greene County, which has financed two other trucks for the fire department. The department will pay $75,000 cash down from their $480,000 capital fund and finance the remaining $502,797 at 3.375 percent over 10 years. This would be a $14,703 quarterly payment.
“The real plus for us now is that the ladder truck and the brush truck are almost paid off,” Mulvey said.
“So the new loan will start when the old one is paid off?” asked Blundell, who was concerned about the effect of this large expenditure on the village’s 2 percent tax cap.
Mulvey said yes, because there is only a $75,000 balance left on the two other trucks.
According to Blundell, the fire department is a private company that funds most of its budget through its contract with the town and the village ($115,000 from the village and $250,000 from the town), so if the old loan is paid off before the new loan begins, it should not mean a huge tax increase.
Fire department Vice President Dave Bayliss asked the board if they had tried getting more than one quote for financing since the department’s procurement policy states that anything over $1,000 has to have at least 3 bids.
Mulvey said the board would look into that, but added that the department has a good relationship with the bank and doesn’t want to jeopardize that and so was inclined to stick with Greene.