Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Department wants to borrow for fire, rescue vehicles

by Chris Schultz

March 24, 2011

Genoa City — Bloomfield-Genoa City Fire and Rescue is having a hard time buying equipment on a pay-as-you-go plan.

Firefighter Tim Steinmetz approached the Genoa City Village Board on Thursday (March 10) with a plan to allow the fire department to borrow money to buy needed equipment.

The fire department’s board has already approved the plan, but it would also require approval by the Bloomfield Town Board.

Village Board trustees said they were sympathetic, but outside events require the village to hold off, said Village President Barry Goad.

“Our fleet is getting old,” Steinmetz told the board. He said the fund for replacing aging equipment isn’t keeping up with costs.

The capital replacement fund now has $271,000 and is slated to be used to buy a new engine in 2014.

But the department finds itself in a situation where it needs a new engine, brush truck and tanker.

Under the current capital replacement plan, the department will be able to afford its new engine in 2014, but then it can’t buy another fire truck until it replaces an ambulance, said Steinmetz.

Steinmetz said that trucks are increasing in price by 5 to 7 percent per year.

In addition to inflation and new technology that adds to a truck’s price tag, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adds emission requirements for new vehicles, which adds to the costs.

“Yes, we’re saving, but we’re not saving fast enough to replace our fleet,” he said.

He said the department needs to replace one truck every two years and put $200,000 aside every year in its capital fund to make those purchases.

“We can’t do that,” he said. He said the department puts aside about $60,000 a year now.

Once the new engine in purchased in 2014, the next engine wouldn’t be replaced until it is 40 or 41 years old.

Meanwhile, professional firefighting standards say that equipment should be replaced every 15 years at the very latest.

Steinmetz asked that the Genoa City board allow the fire department to borrow $230,000. Then, with the money already in its capital fund, the department could afford to buy a new engine and a new brush truck

He said having the new vehicles would save the department $38,000 in repair costs. Buying now would also allow the department to buy equipment before new EPA regulations take effect, which will increase the costs of new vehicles. He said the department might also be able to land a grant for the new tanker truck, which would reduce the local share for the new vehicle from $200,000 to about $10,000.

Bloomfield-Genoa City Fire and Rescue was created by agreement between Genoa City and the town of Bloomfield.

The area around the community of Pell Lake in the town of Bloomfield is currently petitioning to incorporate as a village.

The incorporation process is now caught up in Walworth County Circuit Court, and actions on the appeals and petitions may not start up again until June.

If Pell Lake incorporates it could withdraw from the Bloomfield-Genoa City Fire and Rescue, taking a substantial portion of Bloomfield’s assessed valuation with it, said Village President Barry Goad.

“If the village of Bloomfield (Pell Lake) is cut out, Genoa City would be financially crushed by the existing funding formula (for the fire department),” Goad said.