WOODMERE — After discussing the purchase of a new quint fire truck for more than a year, officials are taking steps toward achieving that goal. The 1994 engine truck ended up in the shop for brake repairs, and the need for a new fire truck came to the forefront again.
“We’ve been talking about this now for over a year, why have we not moved forward with it?” asked Councilwoman Lisa Brockwell, chairwoman of the Finance Committee, on Monday.
Fire Chief Johnny Brewington contacted Mayor Ben Holbert on Saturday to inform him that the fire truck was inoperable due to an issue with the brakes. The truck was towed on Monday and is in a repair shop. As of Monday night, Chief Brewington did not have a cost estimate for repairs. For the time being, the Pepper Pike Fire Department will respond to calls in Woodmere, according to Mayor Holbert.
Council recently voted to cut the mayor’s spending authority from $5,000 to $2,500 per line item. Village financial consultant and former treasurer Tom Cornhoff said that the mayor’s fund may not be able to cover the cost of repairing the brakes on the fire truck. If the cost is higher than the mayor’s spending authority, it must come before council for approval. The next council meeting is March 11.
“Right now, we have a bill of towing and labor and some other things for $1,040 and that’s not even to get into fixing the brakes. This is going to cost over the spending limit of the mayor,” Mr. Cornhoff said. “Is there a process in place for the safety of the village to make that expenditure or can some authority be given tonight or at some point authorizing the fire chief to repair the brakes on the vehicle?”
Ms. Brockwell suggested legislation giving a “will not exceed” figure to allow the expenditure on the fire truck repairs but cap how much is spent. Mr. Cornhoff estimated that a fair “do not exceed” value for brake repairs could be $7,500.
“We just hope that council will approve it,” Mayor Holbert said on Tuesday.
Council has tossed around the idea of purchasing a new fire truck for several years. A quint is a type of fire apparatus that serves as an engine truck and a ladder truck. Its five functions include pump, water tank, fire hose, aerial device and ground ladders. A quint could cost up to $750,000, according to Mr. Cornhoff. He called in on Monday night to join the finance committee meeting. Phil Foley was appointed interim treasurer until the village finds a replacement.
Mr. Cornhoff said that over the last four years, the village has transferred funds into the new vehicle fund, which now has $120,000. The most common way to buy a vehicle like this, he said, is a lease to purchase agreement. He said that it may be helpful to speak to someone at CF Bank in Woodmere or another bank that specializes in municipal financing.
Councilman Craig Wade, who attended the Monday meeting but is not a member of the finance committee, asked Chief Brewington if the department is staffed properly to use a quint fire truck. Chief Brewington said that the department does have a model to support the quint when it is staffed at its minimum level, which is three firefighters. The chief serves as the fourth firefighter when he is present during daytime shifts.
Council President Jennifer Mitchell Earley asked Chief Brewington how much money the village has put into repairs on the current truck over the last two years. He estimated $7,000 to $10,000.
The chief said that he plans to gather quotes for a pumper truck and a quint.