Trent Ernst, Editor
While nothing is official yet, Council is entertaining the idea of buying a new ladder truck for the Fire Department.
The item came up as part of the District’s budgeting talks, which are happening over the next few weeks at town hall.
Chief Matt Treit says this item has been on the budget “for about 15 years now,” but keeps getting pushed back, as the cost is so high.
The current ladder truck is 28 years old. They have three options, he says. The can buy a used truck, which would be cheaper, but finding one that will fit the smaller bay of our fire hall might be difficult. The second option is to buy a new one, which can be custom built. This latter option is the one on the table and could cost about $1.2 million.
The third option would be to buy a used ladder truck and build a new building for storage of the new unit.
The purchase is currently forecast for 2016, but some members of council propose moving it forward to this year.
According to Treit, fire trucks are expected to have a 20 year life span, and for every year older than that, the Firefighter Underwriters Survey gives ten percent less credit for that particular truck. After 30 years, the truck is completely written off. While there are a variety of factors involved, having such an old truck lowers the score and, if our score goes down low enough, it could increase the insurance for home owners. In two years, he says, it will be treated as if we don’t have a ladder truck at all.
Councillor Howe suggests that now might be the time to do something about this. He asks about amortizing the cost across the usable life of the truck. Leggett says amortization in accounting for the purpose of spreading the value out over the useful life of the asset, and it doesn’t reflect what the actual cost you actually pay, and the budget needs to reflect the latter.
Accountant Clive Freundlich says the District does amortize all capital, but points out they also need to spend the money to purchase it. He suggests that the District could borrow money to purchase it. If the loan length is less than five years, then Council makes that decision, but if the loan period is over five years or more, Council would need public consent.
Councillor Caisley suggests, even if they don’t purchase it this year, they could set up a reserve so they can start putting money down this year towards this. Mayor McPherson agrees, saying the last time a fire truck was purchased, they already had the money set aside for it.
Freundlich says the District has an equipment reserve. Currently, there is about two million in it. There is a contribution that happens every year. He says it doesn’t appear in the policy that there is a required amount, but he’ll check on it.
In addition to the new truck, the fire department replaces a portion of its hoses every year. $2000 is budgeted towards that. They also need to buy new protective equipment that wears out and for new firefighters. They’ve budgeted for two sets, which costs about $3000, plus gloves and boots, etc, for a total of $8000.