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Municipal sales tax to be funneled toward lease-purchase of new city fire truck

BUCKHANNON – The 1 percent sales tax the City of Buckhannon enacted at the start of this calendar year will enable the municipality to foot the bill for a brand new fire truck for the Buckhannon Fire Department.

At its Thursday, July 2 meeting, city council approved the financing for a rescue fire pumper apparatus truck from Sutphen Corporation. City finance and administrative director Amberle Jenkins said to cover the cost of the $542,454 truck, the city would need to enter into a lease-type purchase agreement with a local bank.

She explained the during budgeting sessions in March, city officials had built about $5,000 monthly payments into the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget, which would be generated by the 1 percent sales tax that went into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Buckhannon Fire Chief J.B. Kimble, who participated in the July 2 meeting via teleconference, said the lowest bid for a fire rescue truck also turned out to be the best option.

“A group of members from our organization who got together and came up with the best truck possible for our organization to last,” Kimble said. “This truck is designed to provide a service to our community for the next 25 years and last that long, so I want to want to thank our Truck Committee for putting in the time and effort to come up with the best piece of apparatus to serve our community.”

Saying the lowest bid from Sutphen Corporation, headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, was also the best fire truck manufacturer, Kimble noted that a memorandum of understanding will need to be drafted between the city and the Buckhannon Volunteer Fire Department, which is likely to contribute $35,000 to $50,000 to the purchase of the truck.

Jenkins, the city’s finance director, said she approached several local banks, and the best interest rate of 2.5 percent over a 10-year term came from Community Bank.

“We have about $38,000 to pay down on the truck,” she said.

Councilman CJ Rylands calculated the monthly payment to be $4,755.

“I did the math – that’s $4,755 a month, and over 10 years, that’s $66,000 in interest,” he said. “Is there any penalty for getting aggressive with the payment?”

Jenkins said no.

“We had built approximately $5,000 (a month) into the budget,” she said. “I want everyone to know that this is part of sales tax, too. Some of the bigger capital expenses we’re [accruing], some of the paving we’re doing, that is all coming from sales tax. We’ve started a stormwater infrastructure projects fund in the sanitary department, too, and we’re investing in public safety.”

Councilman David Thomas made a motion to approve entering into the financing agreement with Community Bank that will enable the city to purchase the truck.

“I move that we accept that offer,” he said. “That’s a great percentage.”
City recorder Randy Sanders said he wanted to emphasize to the public that the fire truck was a planned expense.

“The research has been done,” Sanders said, “and we’ve done our due diligence.”

Councilwoman Pam Bucklew seconded Thomas’s motion, which passed unanimously.

The truck likely won’t arrive in Buckhannon until 2021, as it often takes 13 to 15 months to manufacture, Buckhannon career firefighter Tanner Smith said Tuesday.

Also during its Thursday meeting, council authorized Public Works Director Jerry Arnold to solicit bids for a concrete truck and silo.

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