Kittanning Council Rejects Fire Truck Offers

All eight members of Kittanning Borough Council were in attendance last night to listen to Shuster's offer on behalf of Hose Company #1. But, Council voted to reject the offer and re-advertise for bids of at least $450,000 - the remaining debt outstanding.

by Jonathan Weaver

A last-minute offer from Kittanning Hose Company #1 wasn’t enough to save the ladder truck from eventually leaving Kittanning Borough.

The 2007 Smeal Aerial will continue to be out-for-bid after Kittanning Borough council members rejected the fire department’s last offer during their monthly meeting last night to keep the apparatus.

Hose Company #1 Representative Jerry Shuster made one last offer - which included paying off the balance of a PEMA grant ($124,000) and $100,000 to alleviate additonal debt - to Kittanning Borough council last night. The offer was rejected, but firefighters will be able to use the appartus until it is ultimately sold.

Representative Gerald Shuster said the department ‘regretfully’ withdrew their offer to assume the entire debt – more than $450,000 – as proposed in February, after meeting with legal and financial advisors.

“To legally bind the Company for nearly a half million dollars for the next 20 years at a time of such economic uncertainty is not a fiscally-sound decision,” Shuster said.

Instead, Shuster and the fire department offered half that amount, through a plan to pay off an outstanding Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) grant – about $124,000 – and give the Borough $100,000 to reduce debt.

Hose Company #1 Fire Chief Gene Stephens said the $100,000 is available due to savings incurred by refinancing the South Jefferson Street firehouse. He said the deal would have allowed for five years of truck payments and predicted firefighters would have been able to use the truck for the next 20 years.

“We told (Council) months ago we were financially-strapped because we had other bills, but now everything is bought and paid for,” Stephens said.

But, Council pointed out other financial assets, such as roads, Borough police and garbage collection, that they said need to be addressed.

 

Kittanning Borough Councilman Dick Reedy attacked Shuster, saying the fire company had made remarks about him on the issue.

It took 4th Ward Councilman Richard Reedy about 10 seconds to consider and motion to reject the offer, which surprised Shuster.

“I’m surprised he reacted so quickly. I think something this important should be given considerably-more time to evaluate,” Shuster said. “Nothing would have prevented this to wait and take action after the opening of the bids.”

Council received two bids for the truck, both under the $450,000 needed to eclipse the loan. New England Fire Equipment and Apparatus Corporation of New Haven, Conn. bid $300,000, while Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus, LLC. of Union Grove, Ala. bid $401,600.

Due to the lower bids, Council voted 7-1 to re-advertise the truck for a minimum-$450,000. 1st Ward Councilwoman Lisa McCanna predicted bid amounts will not raise.

3rd Ward Councilman Ange Turco made the dissenting vote.

Shuster said Borough Council already put close to $300,000 into the truck and will see nothing from their investment if it is sold.

“Whatever money they get out of it, they sell that truck, it’s out of here. With our proposal, at least there was some tangible asset,” Shuster said.

McCanna agreed.

“If this truck’s gone, we’re not going to have it,” McCanna said. “I want (Council) to sit and think what this fire truck means to this community – that’s the intangible value we’re talking about.

“We’re not going to get ($450,000). People that want to buy a fire truck want to get it at a bargain,” McCanna added. “We’ve taken a loss all these years anyhow. Let’s take less of a loss and make it less painful for everyone.”

Council President Chris Sciano said he and Solicitor Chase McClister have had trouble receiving a tax anticipation loan due to the fire truck and that his vote was ‘strictly business.’

“I don’t want any more loans! I want to get rid of that truck!,” Sciano said.

3rd Ward Councilwoman Kim Fox was saddened by her vote, but said it had to be done.

“I don’t want to see the truck go – it breaks my heart – but we have to live with the taxpayers, and we have to look at the shape of the town, and we have to look at the streets. We are in such poor financial shape,” Fox said. “We have to correct the wrongs from the past and get this town back-on-track. It saddens me that that’s the sacrifice that’s probably going to get made.”

Hose Company #1 firefighters will be able to continue to use the truck for fire calls until it is sold.

However, Stephens predicted the fire company would purchase another piece of equipment before the end of 2012.

“We achieved the goals we set in the past – all of them,” Stephens said. “We’ve been in existence since 1880 and we’re still going to be in here in 2080 – I guarantee you that.”

Additionally, garbage collection normally scheduled for this Friday, April 6 will be pushed back to Thursday, April 5. Garbage collection Thursday will also be moved to tomorrow, Wednesday, April 4.

The meeting will be rebroadcast today at 1PM on WTYM AM 1380 radio.

  • By itiswhatitis, April 3, 2012 @ 10:08 AM

    Well, unfortunately this is what it has come to. Hopefully #1 finds a similar ladder on the used market for a good price. That way everyone wins

  • By JornJensen, April 3, 2012 @ 10:34 AM

    Someone needs to do the math of getting out of the garbage collection business and using that anticipated savings to attempt to keep the truck, or to fix the roads in town.

    “I want to get rid of that truck!” is not a real ‘problem-solving’ comment.

    If it sells for $450k, then the $300k already paid was just an insurance policy during the time that the truck was here – quite an expensive policy.

  • By worthingtonman, April 3, 2012 @ 1:49 PM

    Isn’t it ugly when board members attack the speaker? I like the way the school board meetings are held where the people speak and the board listens as the best. Handling personal issue between board members and speakers are best handled personnally rather than in front of the crowd so to speak. I really don’t know which side is wrong and right, thats up to the people of Kittanning to resolve it. Just makes for a ugly situation when you have a board member pointing his finger at people. I like to follow the principal when you point a finger at someone, there are four more pointing back at you. The main reason I never run for any board is because I would like how Mr. Reedy does in this picture!

  • By wakeuppeople, April 3, 2012 @ 2:51 PM

    wow what a dumb council you need this truck but you would rather pay the police all that overtime. and you want to hire someone to watch what people put out for garbage ms Mccanna is the only smart on of the bunch buy hey lets keep putting money in a fire station that is used for a social club heck the last fire they went to none of them even had gear on buy hey keep giving them money

  • By forward, April 3, 2012 @ 7:02 PM

    Ol’ Jerry says…. “To legally bind the company for nearly a half million dollars for the next 20 years at a time of such economic uncertainty is not a fiscally sound decision ” …….EXACTLY !…..just as it wasn’t fiscally sound to bind the borough for 20 years for three quarters of a million Jerry !

  • By north end guy, April 3, 2012 @ 7:12 PM

    Wakeuppeople, I don’t think council wanted to hire some one to police the garbage.That was Tom Clouse’s bright idea.I think he moved on to some other brain storm.Sell the ladder truck allready and tell Shuster to keep his nose out of the town politics. He had his chance and quit. Pave the 200 and 100 block of Water St. and get on the gas company for the very poor job it did filling the cuts they made laying new gas lines on N.McKean St .I was going to buy a new car but not as long as we have so called paved roads in this town .What a embarrassment.

  • By Thomas Close, April 3, 2012 @ 11:17 PM

    This is just the beginning,wait till personal have to be cut in order to save money. Or Police (like so many small towns)and the State Police take your calls. If you seen in the paper not long ago the State is now going to keep all the fines instead of giving half to the Boro or twp.in which they enforce the laws in. The truck is just the first step !!!

  • By JornJensen, April 6, 2012 @ 11:03 AM

    I’ll plan to be in town for the Waves of Thunder motorcycle weekend (June 8 – 10)and participate in the car show portion. And, I’ll spend some money in support of #1 Hose Company’s efforts. Look for the #28 NASCAR Galaxie.

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