Sidney is set to save more than $1 million after councilors approve the purchase of a used tower ladder truck for the fire department.
The purchase, recommended by Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen, was approved by the full committee during recent budget consultations.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith thanked Mikkelsen for his diligence in finding the used vehicle in the United States, noting, “This translates into huge savings for our community in the future and is greatly appreciated.
The approval provides an advance of $1.3 million from the 2022 budget for the purchase of the 42-foot-long vehicle, equipped with a 100-foot ladder. The purchase price is approximately 1.02 million Canadian dollars, or 802,500 US dollars, but the budgeted amount includes taxes, import fees and the cost of converting the truck to metric pump fittings, between other minor changes.
Mikkelsen’s report to the board called this the best opportunity to buy a tower ladder truck without debt financing, noting that the previous such purchase required a five-year lease to make it affordable.
“The cost of new fire apparatus has increased exponentially,” the chief said at the February 7 committee meeting, pointing to the changing urban form of Sidney as one of the reasons for the escalation. costs.
Sidney’s increasingly dense and compact shape necessitates smaller, more maneuverable vehicles, which are ultimately more expensive. “It’s about having to condense the capacity of a typically 45- to 50-foot-long truck into a 42-foot-long truck,” the report said.
The report describes the truck in question as well suited to serve the municipality, but not perfectly. When asked if a new truck would be a better alternative, Mikkelsen told advisers such a truck exists but would cost $2.45 million.
“It’s all a compromise,” he added later. “We think for these cost savings, this (vehicle) offers tremendous value and is very usable and it will serve the (municipality) well.”
By purchasing the used vehicle in 2022, the municipality reduces its 2023 budget by $1.1 million.
Andrew Hicik, director of business services and chief financial officer of Sidney, said taxpayers would benefit from the purchase.
“I realize we might have to replace this three years sooner than a brand new truck, but it gives us plenty of time to build up the reserve to the level required and I would feel much better with our levels of reserve and not having to take out short-term loans if we were to buy that used truck,” he said.
The longer ladder includes a tower platform that allows crews to safely evacuate residents from upper floor balconies and windows. “It’s much safer for residents and our firefighters,” Mikkelsen said in his report.
With the purchase, the plan is to sell the department’s existing ladder truck, which includes a 75-foot ladder. Although Mikkelsen couldn’t cite an exact figure citing the uniqueness of the market, he estimated the sale could fetch between $35,000 and $50,000.
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