Keeping Amherst’s firefighting fleet in shape is an expensive proposition, one that’s expected to go before voters in the form of a one-mill, five-year property tax renewal.
City council opted Monday to place the issue on the May primary ballot. To appear, the question must be submitted by Feb. 1 to the Lorain County Board of Elections.
Fire chief Greg Knoll said the money isn’t for payroll.
“It’s anything we need as far as truck maintenance, new purchases, anything with remodeling the building or repairing it,” he said.
The levy generated $292,310 in 2016, according to deputy auditor Gwen Melbar.
Knoll said that would more than cover the cost of a new command vehicle — he plans to ask for a new specially-outfitted SUV next year at an estimated cost of $75,000 — but it wouldn’t begin to touch the cost of a ladder or tanker truck.
Buying one of those will require some long-term planning.
“We’re always saving up for something,” said Knoll. “What we have coming down the road is we’re probably going to need to purchase a couple of trucks within a few years. With that costing about $500,000 per unit, that’s a lot of saving.”
Fire trucks are typically replaced every 20 to 25 years with purchases staggered so they don’t hit the department’s budget all at one time.
In other Amherst fire news, council shuffled an additional $1,000 into the department’s part-time wages account. The money is to pay for year-end emergency medical services calls.
Firefighters are dispatched to serious medical calls such as falls, diabetic issues, heart attacks, bleeding, and anytime someone is found unconscious.
A portion of calls are due to drug overdoses, said Knoll, but they aren’t the main cause behind the part-time wages increase.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.