The Smithville Volunteer Fire Department will soon have its first ever ladder truck, possibly within ninety days.
The aldermen Monday night, on a 4-0 vote, adopted a recommendation by Fire Chief Charlie Parker to accept a bid from EVS-Midsouth, Inc of Memphis in the amount of $746,705 for a Pierce Impel 75 foot Hal Quint aerial ladder truck with a 1,750 gallon per minute pump/500 gallon tank. This was the lowest of the two bids submitted. The other bid was from Cumberland International Trucks of Nashville for a 2012 Sutphen 75 Foot Pumper/Ladder with a Stainless Steel Rescue Style Body complete and delivered in the amount of $785,818.
Alderman Danny Washer made the motion to accept the bid from EVS-Midsouth to purchase the ladder truck. Alderman Shawn Jacobs offered a second to the motion. Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger joined Jacobs and Washer in voting in favor. Alderman Gayla Hendrix was absent.
(SEE VIDEO BELOW OF DEMO LADDER TRUCK SIMILAR TO TRUCK BEING PURCHASED BY THE CITY)
Chief Parker said EVS-Midsouth, Inc not only had the lowest bid but also met all the city's bid specs."The price on this is not just for the ladder truck itself. This is for all the equipment that goes on the truck, the air packs, the hose, the nozzles, everything to make it fully compliant and there's also a few extra pieces of equipment in there to make sure it works with our current fleet. There are some adaptors, intakes, and other things to adapt the hose from the ladder truck to what we've got to make sure everything will match up to all three trucks. That equipment is in this price also," he said.
Chief Parker said he and the officers of the city fire department met last week along with alderman and fire commissioner Shawn Jacobs and voted to recommend the bid from EVS-Midsouth. "Our officers met along with Mr. Jacobs on Tuesday night and we reviewed the specs. It was our recommendation to go with the cheaper one (bid) from EVS-Midsouth. I discussed with Alderman Jacobs about the financing. There had been some discussion about whether to do it outright or whether to finance it. I was going to leave that up to the board's discretion and let the mayor and aldermen see the best option for that as far as paying for it. We do recommend going with this one (EVS-Midsouth). It does meet all of our specs and it does have all the equipment. It would have everything on it ready to go," said Chief Parker.
City firefighters have already had some training in the use of a ladder truck, according to Chief Parker, with more training to come, "Yes, we have had training and we're also setting up another class in the future to get everybody through it again so there is still more training to come on it. We have had some but there will be more training after the truck is delivered. We also have another sixteen hour class that I am trying to get scheduled. So there would be more extensive training to go on it yet,' he said.
The bid from EVS-Midsouth, Inc contained options for financing the purchase from three to five years at interest rates of 2.45% or 2.55%. Cumberland International Trucks included financing options of from three to seven years at interest rates of 2.45% to 2.66%.
The aldermen, at the suggestion of Mayor Taft Hendrixson, chose to make the initial $250,000 down payment to EVS-Midsouth for the truck when ordered as called for in the bid, and to pay the rest off when the truck is delivered, which is expected to be within ninety days. Mayor Hendrixson said he saw no reason to pay interest when the city has the money in the bank to buy the truck. "My suggestion is on paying for it. If you do it on a three year deal it is going to cost you up to $28,000 interest. We've got the money to pay for it and I've never been one to pay interest if you've got the money. My suggestion is to pay the $250,000 now and when it's delivered, pay the rest of it," said Mayor Hendrixson.
All the money for the purchase will come out of the city's general fund reserve. The down payment will be paid in this budget year. The remainder will be allocated in the 2012-13 budget year, which begins July 1st
In response to Mayor Hendrixson's suggestion, Alderman Jacobs said "that makes sense to me and that still will not deplete our reserves by any means."
Mayor Hendrixson responded "no but it will be about 20% of our general fund reserve. About a fifth of our reserve in the general fund," he said.
"I want to assure everybody that we absolutely have no intention of running through the rest of that reserve in the near future unless there is some sort of catastrophe or something like that," said Alderman Jacobs. "As a matter of fact, I believe we will be putting more money in that reserve at the end of this fiscal year if something doesn't happen. I've been told we're finishing about $200,000 to the good," he said.
Mayor Hendrixson replied, "I hope more than that, but I don't know," he said.
"In other words we're finishing the year under budget," said Alderman Jacobs.
Mayor Hendrixson answered,"That's what's built our reserve up in the past. If you budget six million and spend five and a half million, you can put half a million dollars in reserve for things that you do need," he said.
The city fire department will have a total of three trucks in the fleet with the addition of the new ladder truck including a 2001 and a 1992 model. Alderman Washer asked why not sell the 1992 model, while it still worth something. Chief Parker said the city needs all three trucks to maintain its Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating. "In keeping up our ISO rating, we still need the older truck. We can put it into a reserve status but to keep our pump capacity for our ISO rating, we would still need to keep the old truck. Its twenty years old now so we can run it as a reserve pumper, but in five years it could be considered an antique," he said.
Chief Parker said he would prefer to replace the 1992 truck possibly within the next five years and establish a schedule for replacing the oldest trucks over time. "We're going to have to do something with it within the next five years. Having a newer truck now gives us a little bit of cushion. We've got five years to start looking. But as far as getting rid of it at this point, it almost kind of defeats our purpose of adding the newer engine and getting our ISO ratings up. But I'll definitively look at some numbers to see what a 20, 25, and a 30 year old truck would be at today's prices and that will give us some kind of idea (what the 1992 truck would bring today versus five or ten years from now)," he said.
In other business, the aldermen voted 3 to 0 to set the wages of the lifeguards at the municipal swimming pool at minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for this season. Alderman Steve White "passed" citing a conflict since his daughter works as a lifeguard at the pool. Mayor Hendrixson asked the aldermen to fund a maximum of three lifeguards at fifty eight hours per week for thirteen weeks. The aldermen gave their approval. Mayor Hendrixson said the cost would be about $20,000 for lifeguards this season, a little more than last year.