East Spencer town board approves the purchase of a new firetruck

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2018

EAST SPENCER — Only three people spoke in favor of a tax hike in order to purchase a new firetruck, but their opinions were heard.

The town Board of Aldermen approved a resolution to proceed with the purchase of a 2018 Spartan S-180.

Residents Irene Johnson and Victoria Thomas and her husband, Nathaniel, all agreed that if it means better fire coverage, then they support a 3-cent property tax increase.

Nathaniel Thomas said that one of the trucks still being used today was used when he was with the East Spencer Fire Department.

Fire Chief Shawn McBride explained to those gathered, which included some town staff members and the town board, about the current fleet. The fleet consists of a 1978 American LaFrance, a 2000 KME purchased used from a Rhode Island fire department, and a 1993 HME pumper.

“All of our current fleet is outdated,” McBride said. “Since 1993, we’ve never bought a brand new truck in East Spencer.”

Johnson said the reason she attended the hearing was because of the proposed tax increase. She said she doesn’t mind paying taxes if it benefits the town and its residents.

“Is this going to make the Fire Department better?” Johnson asked.

McBride said it would and that the department is improving all the time, including having more manpower and training.

There was some concern among the residents about having enough manpower to respond to fires, to which McBride said the “bunk-in” program firefighters have has really helped response time. He said that means that when there is an emergency overnight, someone is at the station who can respond almost immediately.

He said what really has hurt the current trucks is that some former firefighters didn’t take pride in their equipment and didn’t take very good care of it.

After hearing with McBride and Assistant Chief Teon Robinson, Johnson said she thought the town should move forward with a tax increase and the purchase of the truck. The truck would require a 15-year loan at a total cost of $428,000, or $36,509 in annual installments.

The payments would not be due until a year from the date the financing is complete. The interest rate is 3.25 percent and is a fixed rate, Robinson said.

McBride said fire officials met with several vendors.

All of the board members voted in favor of the purchase with the exception of Curtis Cowan, who arrived after voting.

A 3-cent tax increase would mean a homeowner with a $100,000 house would pay anywhere from $30 to $40 more in property taxes a year. The board will continue to discuss the tax increase at its upcoming budget sessions.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.