Ladysmith residents will have a say in borrowing for new fire truck

Ladysmith council voted last week to begin an alternate approval process to borrow up to $440,000 over 25 years for a new fire truck.

Ladysmith residents will have a say in whether or not the fire department gets a new rescue truck.

Ladysmith Fire/Rescue’s 1986 Ford rescue truck is due to be replaced this year, and council voted last week to initiate an alternate approval process to borrow up to $440,000 over 25 years to purchase a new rescue apparatus.

“The rationale is it amortizes the payments over the vehicle’s lifespan and doesn’t rob (Public Works director John Manson’s) account,” said Coun. Gord Horth.

The town will issue a Request for Proposals to replace the Ladysmith Fire/Rescue 1986 Ford rescue truck.

There are some reserve funds available to apply toward the purchase of this new vehicle, but a significant amount of the estimated $440,000 cost will still need to be funded.

Council considered three options for financing and chose to seek elector approval and finance the purchase over the longest period of time. Going this route, the cost would be about $35,000 per year for the first five years, according to the report prepared by Financial Services Director Erin Anderson and Fire Chief Ray Delcourt.

One option was financing the purchase for up to five years through the Municipal Financing Authority at about $94,000 per year. This would not require elector approval.

Council could also choose to go to referendum or alternate approval to finance the vehicle over a longer period of time, such as 20 years or the life of the vehicle — 25 years.

Through this process, electors receive an Elector Response Form, and if more than 10 per cent oppose the bylaw and return the form, the municipality cannot borrow money without holding a referendum.

In the past, the town has financed other fire vehicles over the life of the asset.

Another option would be to finance the purchase with the town’s Public Works vehicle equipment reserve.

The 1986 Ford rescue truck is slated for replacement this year in the Fire/Rescue Vehicle Replacement Schedule submitted in 2003.

“Due to the age of the current 1986 Ford rescue truck, there have been many times over the last few years that this vehicle was out of service due to breakdowns or from needing constant repairs,” Delcourt wrote in the report. “Some of these breakdowns happened when Ladysmith Fire/Rescue personnel were responding to calls, which delayed their response times.

Also, due to the growth of the town of Ladysmith and surrounding area and the required types of responses that Ladysmith Fire/Rescue Services now provides, our need to carry more equipment to emergency incidents has greatly increased. The new replacement rescue apparatus will be capable of carrying all required equipment and will enable firefighters to safely perform their duties.”