Hancock asks for $500,000 new truck

  • Hancock Fire Chief Tom Bates makes a case for a $500,000 new fire truck during a public hearing on Monday. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 6:5PM

The Hancock select board pushed off a decision to approve a warrant article that would ask taxpayers to shell out about $500,000 on a new fire truck during a public hearing Monday night.

A quick calculation by multiple people in the room on Monday said that dollar sum would spike the tax rate by about .24 or .25 cent per $1,000 if it were to pass. The town doesn’t have a capital reserve fund, like many towns in the region, to offset the price of such a large purchase. That means the full cost would land on taxpayers this year.

“You look at the cost of a new fire truck and it’s alarming,” Wayne Gordon, who lives in Hancock, said in an interview after the meeting.

He added that he’s on a fixed income, which means these kinds of purchases have an impact.

Gordon asked if the department had a fund that it could dip into to help offset the cost a little bit. Fire department officials said they do have a fund that has more than $100,000 in it. Gordon asked if the department could dip into that money, but the town’s Fire Chief Tom Bates said he would be opposed because they use those dollars for smaller items that arise. Another person at the meeting brought up the possibility of applying for federal grant money, but Bates said people have already looked into the avenue and the town isn’t eligible for those dollars.

The fire engine the department researched is from a Nebraska-based company called Smeal Fire Apparatus Co. Bates said the department designed the truck to specifically fit the town of Hancock’s needs.

Bates said the truck they’re looking to replace is more than 40 years old and in need of repairs. He said the truck should have been replaced two years ago.

He argued every year that the town delays the decision, the cost of buying a brand new truck will increase due to inflation.

“Putting off a purchase doesn’t really save you anything,” Bates said. “It costs you money in the long run.”

Gordon said he wants the department to have a new truck, the old one isn’t up to safety code, but he said he wishes other options were evaluated before this plan was dumped on taxpayers.

“My concern is I don’t think the selectmen have fostered some sort of an open discussion before this,” Gordon said. “It has just been dropped on us. And there will be a 10-year burden on the town to pay for it.”

He said the fire department has only looked into one option so far, and that more research should be done before they land on the best option to present to taxpayers.

“When you buy a car do you just go to one place?” Gordon said. “Maybe, but probably not.”

The board also discussed a potential warrant article to replace a 1994 Mack Dump Truck for the Department of Public Works. The department would have to borrow more than $100,000 to purchase the truck.

A public hearing was held on Feb. 12 to hear comments and questions about this article. The Selectboard voted to recess the meeting and reconvene the meeting on Monday Feb. 19 at 6:30pm.

Select board Tom Shevenell said the group would discuss all of the information presented at the meeting and reconvene on Monday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.