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City council OKs bids for ladder truck, financing

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

After the chief of the city’s volunteer fire department explained why the department wants to buy a new ladder truck at this time, the Vandalia City Council accepted the low bid for such a truck.

The council unanimously voted to accept the bid of $725,829 from Mac’s Fire and Safety of Litchfield for a KME truck with a 79-foot ladder.
That was one of two bids received by the city, the other being $798,600 from Global Emergency Products for a Pierce truck with a 75-foot ladder.
The council then accepted the low bid for the financing of that ladder truck, unanimously approving a five-year, 2-percent loan from Land of Lincoln.
Others submitting bids for the financing of the truck were: First National Bank, First Bank, National Bank, Midland States Bank and KME, the company building the ladder truck.
The council solicited bids for five-year, eight-year and 10-year loans.
The council agreed to proceed with the purchase of a new ladder truck after one alderman asked VVFD Chief Ed Taylor to explain why the department wants to make such a purchase at this time.
Ward II Alderman Dorothy Crawford said a number of residents asked her that question, having heard fire officials say that the department’s current ladder truck is in good shape.
Taylor told Crawford that a couple of factors were considered.
He said that 20-25 years ago, the VVFD and city started a program through which it would purchase trucks with five-year loans, and purchase a new truck when one loan is paid off.
“We just made that last payment (on one truck) this fiscal year, so it’s time to replace another unit,” Taylor said, noting that the last truck was purchased with a six-year loan.
“The next to replace is the ladder truck. Obviously, that’s the most expensive to replace, the toughest one to replace,” he said.
“In our thinking, now might be the optimal time to do that, for several reasons,” Taylor said.
“Number 1, interest rates are the lowest we’ve seen them in years, so the financing would be more economical at this time.
“The other major factor is that the truck we have is in really good shape,” he said.
The ladder is certified and the pump is certified. “What that means is that that truck is valuable, has value to it right now.
“Any department could buy that truck, take it from our station to their station and put it right in service,” Taylor said.
If the department replaces another truck at this time, he said, “We wouldn’t be able to consider replacing the ladder (truck) for another five years.
“In another five years, that truck may or not be able to certify. If it does not certify, it goes from like a $175,000 truck to a $10,000 truck just like that,” Taylor said.
“Once it does not certify, nobody in the fire service will buy it,” he said.
Mayor Rick Gottman said the production time for the ladder truck is eight-12 months, and that the city will begin putting money back to apply toward the first payment.
Also to be applied to loan payments is the money from the sale of the current ladder truck.
If the department receives a good offer before the new truck is received, Taylor said, the department could adjust its operations. That would include having another department that has a ladder truck be ready to respond for assistance.
Also at Monday’s meeting, Alderman B. John Clark said that some residents have asked him why the public works department has not been filling street cracks with tar this year.
Public Works Director John Moyer gave several reasons for that.
Moyer said, “Several years ago, we got so low on MFT (Motor Fuel Tax dollars), from the downtown project and everything.
“Two years there, we didn’t hardly oil at all. We just didn’t have the money.
“We’re getting about the same amount on MFT, but the price of oil and petroleum products has almost tripled,” he said.
Also, he said, the price on a tub of tar has gone “from $35-$40 to over $100.
“We’ve just got to kind of prioritize things,” Moyer said. “And I believe oiling streets is more important.”
He also said that the city will be replacing the bridges at Fifth and Randolph streets, and that it will use MFT funds for its 20-percent match on a project grant.
“We’re going to have to back off on oiling again this year,” Moyer said.
In other action:
• Gottman presented Chief of Police Jeff Ray with a citation from the team commander of the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System Region 9/11 Special Response Team.
The Citation of Valor recognizes Ray’s work as the assistant team leader of the entry team.
“Your knowledge of the law, steadfast dedication to your duties and tactical proficiency has provided numerous safe and successful strategic operations,” the citation states.
“While serving as an assistant team leader, your knowledge and command experience provided a vital component with each operation.
“By placing your life on the line each and every time without question for your fellow operators, you have demonstrated the highest degree of professionalism.”
In presenting the citation to Ray, Gottman noted that he has heard many good comments about Ray from law enforcement officials in other towns.
“They said that we have a real jewel,” Gottman said.
• Gottman noted that developer Dennis Grubaugh has done more work on the former State Farm Insurance building, which now houses the law practice of Matthew Riedle.
“It really looks nice,” Gottman said.
• Gottman said that the city hopes to be ready in time for the council’s Nov. 18 meeting to solicit bids for the installation of a water line to the new South Central FS facility in the northeast quadrant of the city’s western Interstate 70 interchange.