Maine Voters Say 'No' to Ladder Truck Repairs

Aug. 20--WOODSTOCK -- Residents on Tuesday night overwhelmingly voted against appropriating up to $10,000 from the Fire Truck Reserve Account to pay for repairs to the ladder truck during a special town meeting at the Woodstock Town Office.

The $10,000 would have paid for repairing the turntable gears on the truck, Town Manager Vern Maxfield said.

During the Aug. 5 selectmen meeting, the board agreed that "no more than" $10,000 would be spent in repairs.

Fire Chief Kyle Hopps said he was "skeptical" about spending $10,000 on a truck that was over 30 years old.

"I got some quotes on how much it would cost, and it came in at $9,700," Hopps said. "That's really close to the limit that you guys set. The problem is, if the parts come in just a little bit more expensive than I anticipated, or if there's a few more hours of labor, you're going to go over the $10,000."

Chairman Victor Young said the problem with asking to appropriate "up to $10,000 means if it goes $50 over, someone's going to have to pay out of pocket to make up the extra cost."

Selectman Stephen Bies asked Hopps if he had spoken to the town of Greenwood about possibly sharing a ladder truck.

"We talked a lot about doing that, and in the end, we decided it may be possible, but not in the near future," Hopps said. "Greenwood just doesn't have the money right now to do it. Plus, there would always be the question about where the truck would stay and who would be responsible for maintaining it. I know how we maintain our truck here in Woodstock, but they may have a different way of doing it."

Maxfield said he spoke with Greenwood Town Manager Kim Sparks about sharing a ladder truck and Sparks agreed with Hopps.

"She said that we should definitely think about working toward something in the future, but that it just wouldn't work right now," Maxfield said.

The board asked Hopps what his recommendation was in terms of repairing the truck, and Hopps said he would look into purchasing a used truck.

"If you spend the $10,000, you're risking the chance of repairing a truck that won't stay repaired for very long," Hopps said. "I'm skeptical about it. I would say that you look into buying a used truck using money from the Fire Department reserves."

The board asked if the town would be better off spending more money on a newer truck.

"With new trucks, there's a lot of bugs and you run the risk of recalls," Hopps said. "With used trucks, you can find something a little older that has the kinks worked out of it."

One resident asked the board how much a used truck would cost the town.

"Anywhere between $90,000 and $350,000," Selectman Ron Deegan said.

Bies said he was against spending the $10,000 to repair the truck, since the $10,000 wouldn't "guarantee us a functioning truck."

Deegan told the board, "What I want to do is ask for a boost in our funds at the next town meeting so that we can purchase a new ladder truck. I still support the Fire Department 100 percent, but I feel like we need to get some more money in the reserves so we can get a truck that runs good for our town."

Hopps said that as of Tuesday, the Fire Department had $140,000 in its reserve account.

After 15 minutes of discussion, voters at the special town meeting rejected the article.

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

Copyright 2014 - Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine

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