Although some city leaders were uneasy about the hefty price tag, the city board agreed to purchase a new fire truck during a special call meeting Friday.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved to pursue a lease agreement on a new fire truck with high-quality equipment with the E-One company for about $416,000.
The city board researched a detailed comparison of trucks from three different companies before settling with E-One, agreeing to go with a company that has provided quality service in the past.
The Pierce Company priced its truck at about $395,000 while Deep South asked for about $351,000.
“We have done an enormous amount of work,” said Mayor Diane Delaware. “Over the past few months, we have gone through all this information.”
Along with assistant chief Terry Harber, the mayor had detailed discussions covering everything from specifications to financing options with E-One, Pierce and Deep South.
Harber said he was interested in looking at the specific equipment listed on the trucks in an effort maintain the city’s insurance fire rating. With the necessary equipment, he said the city wouldn’t be required to have three firemen who could be hired in the future.
Aside from a reputation of good service, Harber said the E-One truck has greater engine power, and the company manufactures its own trucks. E-One also has the capability to pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute, at a higher rate than the other trucks.
“The more water you can put on a fire at one time, the quicker you can put it out,” Harber said.
Delaware reminded the board with the age of most of houses within the city, getting water on the older structures is of great importance.
Harber also said the new truck would allow the department to use foam in addition to water when extinguishing a fire.
“With foam, you can put a layer on to cool the room off,” Harber said. “It keeps those rooms cool until you can get to the scene of the actual fire.”
Alderman Dr. Jack Varner said a base truck would run anywhere from $225,000 to $250,000. He was concerned about the higher cost at almost $400,000.
Harber said E-One truck has all the top-notch equipment that the fire department needs.
“We need to get what we need for this size of city,” Varner said. “We need to look before we jump into to almost half a million dollars in a truck.”
Varner said there are other departments within the city that need equipment just as bad as the fire department.
“The sanitation (trucks) are seven years old, and they have a five-year expectancy,” Varner continued. “There is equipment at the city barn that needs replacing.”
And Varner said the most important concern is money.
“The budget this year is a million dollars more than it has been in the past” Varner said. “And we have used part of the rainy day funds to make it balanced.”
Varner said he has asked for a detailed list of all of the city’s accounts and has never received it.
“Do you know how much money the city has got,” Varner asked, the board. “I don’t want to buy a Rolls Royce when we can get away with a Chevrolet.”
Delaware said the city’s budget was prepared the same way it has always been done in the past.
“This will not interfere with the solid waste equipment, which can be bought out of the solid waste fund,” Delaware said. “But we must order a (fire) truck very soon so it can be created and delivered to us.”
Delaware said the city must have a new fire truck by January 2016.
“We know what will happen to our rating in 2016 if we have not met the requirements given to us,” she said.
Delaware reminded the board that those requirements were given to the city board several years ago.
Delaware also said the city wouldn’t make the first payment on the truck until January 2017 anyway.
Ward 3 Alderman Gregory Robertson said he understands that there may be cheaper trucks available, but he wants what will work best for the fire department.
“I would like to support what our firemen would want since they will be the ones working and driving it,” he said.
But Ward 4 Alderman Aubry Brent Jr. was also concerned about how the city will pay for the truck.
“If we commit to this truck today, it will take (E-One) ten months to build,” Harber said. “In that time, our ladder truck will be paid for in 2017.
Delaware said the city could also finance the truck through a lease purchase by using rebate money as well.
Brent asked if the city would continue providing fire services to Yazoo County.
“That is something we have to work out with the county,” Delaware said. “We have provided free services to the county for 20 years. The county does not pay taxes to this municipality. This transaction is about our need to provide a fire truck to provide services to Yazoo City.”
By the end of the discussion, the board approved to lease purchase the E-One truck with no opposition.
The board also agreed to obtain bids to lease purchase financing options.