Ladder Truck Funding Proposal Headed to Canton Electors

By | January 29, 2015

Ladder Truck Funding Proposal Headed to Canton Electors
January 21, 2015 

By: John Fitts, Editor

hc-canton-fire-truck-1129-20141128-001Ladder 2, shown here at Sam Collins Day, is currently out of service. Next month voters can decide whether to approve bonding for a replacement vehicle.

Early next month town electors will decide whether to bond as much as $950,000 for a replacement ladder truck for the town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department.

On Tuesday evening, the Board of Finance voted to forward of proposal bond for the purchase of a vehicle, which will replace the department’s ladder 2, which has been out of commission since the fall. One night later, the Board of Selectmen set a Feb. 4 town meeting date.

Officials have been discussing the issue since last fall after the town’s “Ladder 2,” which dates back to 1997, was taken out of service when, during routine repairs, more serious serious issues with the ladder mechanism were discovered. Fire officials said estimates showed the repair costs would be more than the vehicle is worth. The department is looking to buy a demo model that has been shown at trade shows but not used in active services.

Subsequent to a positive referral from the Board of Selectmen, The Board of Finance held an initial discussion, requested more information and then discussed the issue during a special meeting and again on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the finance board voted 4-2 to fund the project through the sale of municipal bonds, which is essentially the town’s way to borrow money and pay back with interest. This spring, the town is selling bonds for previously approved projects so some officials felt it made sense to add the truck to that sale. Each bond sale comes with approximately $55,000 in fees so adding the truck would not carry any additional expense in that area. Some board members also said interest rates are currently about as low as they will get.

All Board of Finance members spoke in favor of the project but Mary Tomolonius and Ike Eickenhorst favored using the town’s fund balance for the purchase. The town has about 15 percent of the amount of its budget in those reserves.

“We have the money in place,” Tomolonius said. “We’ve already taxed our residents.”

Other members, however, felt that since the town does not bond very often, it made sense to save money in the fund balance for other unanticipated needs down the road. They also said the town had always intended to bond for the engine, although this is sooner than originally expected.

“My preference is to save that reserved for the items that are not yet identified,” Beth Kandrysawtz said.

The Board of Finance also discussed two potential school projects, including replacing windows in the rear of the Canton Middle/High School building for an estimated $1. 8 million. That price is higher than school officials initially believed but one challenge is the presence of environmental materials such as PCBs, present in the caulking and brick surrounding the windows. The replacement would

Disturb those materials and regulations would require remediation in the soils below the windows.

The other school project would involve environmental remediation at all three schools, mostly involving the presence of asbestos under tile flooring.

Superintendent Kevin Case said there is no current health threat to students but as flooring projects have come up, the environmental remediation is done a t the same time.

The project as a whole is estimated at $3.47 million.

The finance board did not immediately take action on either of the school projects but did ask administrators to gather more information on the windows, particularly if doing the project in stages would drastically affect the bottom line.

The special town meeting on the truck will take place in the Canton Community Center at 7 p.m. on Feb. 4. More information on the ladder, its condition and options is included below.