“This is a need, not a want,” Mayor Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez told his fellow councilmen after hearing a presentation from BVFD members and Ryan Lee, representing Pierce Manufacturing.
The company builds custom fire fighting vehicles and equipment.
“Have you figured out a way to pay for it?” the mayor asked City Manager Tom Ginter.
Ginter said he had. He recommended a 10-year payment period, saying the city does not want to still be paying for the vehicle after it needs to be replaced.
The city manager said the truck should last at least 20 years.
BVFD members said they thought the truck would last much longer than that. The department already uses trucks that are more than 20 years old.
Ginter said each council member had been handed a packet showing the options they had available to them.
They could choose between buying a truck with a steel ladder system or a truck with an aluminum ladder system.
The steel ladder truck would sell for $975,000 without a maintenance plan or for $986,286 with a five-year maintenance plan.
The truck with the aluminum ladder system would cost slightly more than $1 million without a maintenance plan and the price would jump to $1,650,000 with a maintenance plan.
Assistant Fire Chief Bill Burris said the department had initially wanted a truck with an aluminum ladder system but after looking at the specifications of the two designs, they had opted to recommend the steel ladder system instead.
Steel ladder trucks are able to withstand higher wind speeds, have a greater weight limit and have a larger platform at the top of the ladder, Burris explained.
“The steel ladder is what we recommend,” he said.
Lee said a stock truck can be delivered immediately and the company not only has one available but it’s already fully equipped with hoses, tools and other equipment. Purchasing that truck would save the city the cost of having to buy equipment for a basic ladder truck.
Training for the firemen who will be using the truck and ladder system also would be included in the price, Lee said.
“We are very firm that people need to be trained,” Lee told the council.
The Pierce representative briefly discussed financing options with Ginter and City Finance Director Deborah Ballí. He added the first payment would not be due for a year.
Ginter said he thought that first payment could be made with available funds at the end of this fiscal year and the city would have to budget for future payments.
That first payment was estimated to be $118,000.
When asked if the fire department would recommend the maintenance agreement, Fire Chief Donnie Morris said that would actually be better because the cost is not that much extra.
Lee said that the ladders on trucks of that type must be inspected annually and there are only about five experts in the country who are qualified to make those inspections.
“We could arrange for your inspections to be made at the same time an inspector is down here to inspect the ladders in Corpus Christi,” Lee said. That would save the city money.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Scotten mentioned a statement in the lease agreement saying that the Internal Revenue Service requires a public hearing before the purchase could be approved, in the event that the fire department was to be the buyer.
City Attorney Frank Warner said the hearing may not be a requirement because the city, and not the BVFD, would be the purchasing entity. He said he would need a day or two to research the agreement to determine if the hearing would need to be held.
When Lee said he could not guarantee that the truck could be held until the council meets again, Warner suggested that the council approve the purchase contingent on determining whether a public hearing would be necessary.
Martinez said if a hearing is required, the council could call a special meeting as soon as it becomes necessary.
At that point, Councilman David Carabajal made a motion to approve the 10-year lease purchase agreement of the truck and ladder system, including the five-year maintenance agreement.
Scotten seconded the motion and all five council members voted for it.
Burris said after the meeting that the truck is now located in Mississippi and it would be shipped to Houston for the final graphics to be painted on the body.
“It could be here by Thanksgiving,” Burris said. “If not, then by the end of the year at the latest.”
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.