Council Again Passes on Fire Truck Purchase


Published on February 19 2013 10:44 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham City Council again failed to pass a motion to purchase a new vehicle for the city fire department Tuesday.

The vote again was 2-2 with Mayor Merv Gillenwater and Commissioner Alan Harris again voting in favor, and Commissioner Brian Milleville voting against.  Commissioner Matt Hirtzel became ill during the previous Council meeting so was not present for the earlier vote.  This time, Commissioner Don Althoff, who voted against the purchase at the previous meeting, was not present.

Hirtzel also voted against the purchase, saying attempting to purchase five fire vehicles under a 20-year proposed vehicle replacement plan is "fiscally unaffordable."

City Administrator Jim Arndt had obtained a two-year loan to pay off the balance of the half-million-dollar purchase price and said the loan would cost the City about $6,000 in interest.  Arndt said even with the purchase, the City could maintain a balanced budget.  He also noted that the City sold off one fire vehicle and one is scheduled to be sold next year, saying the heavy rescue squad truck would better suit current firefighting needs.  There are fewer structure fires, but the City is getting more calls to incidents along the interstate, where a rescue truck that is also a pumper would be useful.  The City currently sends two pumpers along with the existing rescue truck.

Gillenwater said, "We have a financial expert (Arndt) and a fire chief and they say we need it; I don't want to follow them blindly, but we at some point have to rely on them."

Also Tuesday, the Council accepted a bid of $176,000 from Esker and Walker Construction to rebuild Illini Drive on Effingham's west side.  The Council also approved a Downtown/Southtown Business Area Redevelopment Program agreement with Tara Flaig Management for improvements to their location with the City going halves with the developer on the $31,000 project.

Council members approved a plat of the second addition to Crossroads Center Subdivision, involving a commercial building off the south side of Ford Avenue that will house two retail businesses, and discussed repairs to a sewer lift station on East Grove Avenue.

The Council also discussed a new five-year agreement with Effingham County Soil and Water Conservation District for monitoring the Lake Sara Watershed and adjacent watersheds for the City; discussed establishing a speed zone on Althoff Drive from Technology Drive to Willenborg Street similar to what the Effingham County Board enacted on east on the roadway; and discussed helping on the cost of a Southtown Rehabilitation project at Russ Braunecker Cadillac, Buick and GMC.

Arndt also gave the Council the City's third quarter financial report.