Fire chief wants pumper truck

By Terri Ferguson Smith -

FAIRMONT — With two fire trucks in need of costly repairs, the town’s top fireman wants to buy a new pumper truck estimated at $300,000.

Fire Chief Garrett Robinson told the Fairmont Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that one of the town’s three fire trucks would cost more to repair than it is worth.

“The pump, the pump transmission and the tank are gone in that truck. It’s a 1990 model Ford,” Robinson said. “I just can’t see putting $40,000 in a $15,000 truck.”

Another truck is down and in need of $5,000 in repairs.

“The Volvo was purchased about 10 years ago. The truck is basically inoperable,” Robinson said. “I don’t have but two people, and one of them is myself, that can operate that truck — it’s a two-speed axle. It drives just like a tractor-trailer. My firefighters are not comfortable driving it. That truck hasn’t responded to a call in probably a year.”

The town will also receive a donation of a used fire truck that is in good shape, Robinson said. Currently the town has three pumper trucks and two command vehicles, he said.

Robinson said he will bring more information about financing a new truck when he has it in hand and has gone over it with Town Manager Katrina Tatum. He estimated that about 40 percent of the purchase price could be available through grants with the remaining 60 percent available through loans.

Also on Tuesday, the commissioners got a good report on a recent financial audit from John Masters of S. Preston Douglas and Associates. The town has raised its General Fund balance, which is the amount the state requires towns and cities to have in case of an emergency.

The fund balance is a little more than 19 percent, which is up from 12.63 percent in 2015 and up from 4 percent in 2014.

“You are to be commended for that,” Masters said.

Jenny Larson, town clerk, later said the town was able to raise its fund balance after commissioners tightened the purse strings without having to raise taxes.

“We had the county start collecting our taxes for us. The county started handling our dispatching for us for police and fire,” Larson said. “Those were two major payroll costs that we saved.”

She said the town also carefully crafted its budget and tried to stick to it — something that paid off.

Masters also presented charts that showed the town’s property taxes, at $700,000, have remained static between 2006 and 2016. During the last two years, sanitation fees are down a little — between $200,000 and $250,oo0, water fees are about the same at $375,000 while sewer fees are up slightly at $800,000.

The town’s utility franchise tax, which is the fee utilities pay for using public rights of ways and other public infrastructure, saw a jump in 2016, according to the report, moving from $140,000 in 2015 to $150,000, which Masters attributed to recovery from the recession.

Sales tax revenues rose from approximately $550,000 to about $575,000 as did the town’s ABC store, which brought in tax revenues of about $24,000 in 2016, slightly up from the year before.

In other business, Commissioner Charles Kemp announced that a job fair will be held in February.

Alamac-American Knits of Lumberton will host it on Feb. 1, from 10 a.m. until noon at 421 S.Main St. in the Fairmont Town Hall courtroom. Jay Humphrey, manager of Alamac-American Knits, will be present accept job applications, answer questions, and present information. Those interested in seeking employment with this company are encouraged to attend, Kemp said.

The commissioners also gave Police Chief Jon Edwards permission to declare two police cars as surplus and list them on an online auction.

By Terri Ferguson Smith

Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-416-5865.

Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-416-5865.

comments powered by Disqus