On Wednesday night, the Towaco Board of Fire Commissioners held a vote in hopes of getting the public’s approval for a new fire truck. The unofficial results have 40 in favor and 2 against, making it a landslide for the new apparatus.
“We’re spending $600,000 on a new fire truck. $300,000 of it is coming out of capital (budget) and that’s why we have a vote tonight (Wednesday night),” said Michael Ward, district clerk of the fire commissioners board.
In order to take money out of the capital budget, the public needs to formally vote on that action.
“Hopefully it’s not (voted down),” said Ward on Wednesday night. “But if it is, we would need to redo the truck, see if we can get it in at a lower price, but it’s already at lowest bid.”
The new truck will replace a 1978 truck that “has been out of service for the past year now, so we’ve been down a truck for the past year.” The new one will bring the total of trucks up to five, which includes three pumpers and a rescue truck.
“The rest of the (cost) is going out for bid,” Ward said. “We’re not bonding the truck out. We’re saving taxpayers money, (for example), we don’t have to go out for bond counsel. So by us doing a lease purchasing agreement with Pierce Fire Truck Company, it saves the taxpayers a (substantial) amount of money.”
Ward added that the interest charges “for the five years for the lease purchase is $2,500.”
The Towaco Fire Department has a history of fiscal responsibility.
“For the proposed 2013 budget, the budget went up, the dollar amount went up, but the tax rate stayed the same,” said Ward. “The proposed 0 percent tax increase is for the 2014 budget. That will be voted in February.”
In 2010, they cutt $75,000 from their budget and “since then we’ve kept the budget below 2 percent for the past three years. (However) we’ve gotten (the firemen) more equipment than they’ve gotten in the past 10 years.”
“In 2012, we knew we had to purchase brand new fire packs, so we put money aside … and this year we bought (them).”
The fire tax is about $75-100 per year on average per household.
The Towaco Board of Fire Commissioners “are extremely concerned about the welfare and wellbeing of the people that live within our district and their fire protection and the firemen are paramount.”
“I am one of them (a volunteer firefighter) and I want to make sure everyone’s alright,” said Ward. “All we care about is saving money for the taxpayers” as well as keeping residents safe.
The proposed resolution that voters passed is as follows:
Be it resolved, by the legal voters of the Township of Montville, Fire District No. 2, COunty of Morris, that the Board of Fire COmmissioners be authorized to enter into a contract for the lease/purchase of a new fire apparatus at a cost not to exceed $300,000.00 and to appropriate $300,000.00 to the capital improvement line item acquisition of fire apparatus as part of the initial down payment. The total acquisition cost for the new fire apparatus shall not exceed $600,000.00.