PROSPECT — Voters approved the lease purchase of a new fire engine at a town meeting last week.
The principal cost of the fire engine — a Pierce custom velocity pumper tanker — is $848,870. Heading into the town meeting, officials planned to pay the firetruck off over a 10-year lease with annual payments of $104,639. With interest, the cost would be $1,046,390 over the life of the lease.
In a subsequent interview, Mayor Robert Chatfield said there was some discussion about using surplus funds for a down payment on the engine in order to reduce the lease payments during the meeting. He said he was going to look into this option and comeback to the Town Council with more information and a recommendation by its July meeting at the latest.
As of the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year, the town’s fund balance, or surplus, stood at $2.25 million, Chatfield said. About $600,000 of that surplus has already been allocated for operating expenses and capital items, including a new town truck, upgrading the outdated phone system in town buildings, and a setting money aside to pay for the upcoming revaluation.
The new firetruck will arrive next year. If the lease payments stay at $104,639 a year for 10 years, the net impact on the budget will be an additional $34,378 a year for the life of the lease.
The first lease payment will be made in the 2019-20 budget. The town is scheduled to make its final lease payment of $70,261 for Engine 1 in October. So, this lease payment will come off the books before the new lease starts.
Chatfield said it’s been the council’s practice to lease new fire apparatus when another lease is paid off.
The firetruck will be supplied by Firematic Truck Sales out of Rocky Hill, which was the only company to bid on the firetruck. The new engine will replace Engine 5, which will be 20 years old next year and reach the end of its life span under the standards followed by the Prospect Volunteer Fire Department.
The new fire engine has more features than Engine 5. It carries 3,000 gallons of water — 500 more than Engine 5 — and also comes with foam to help extinguish a fire. The new firetruck also has safety and performance features that Engine 5 doesn’t, including air bags, vehicle rollover protection, traction control and anti-lock brakes.
Officials plan to sell Engine 5 after the department receives the new engine.